We know it’s a pain, but ...
It might be worth the trouble to purge long-forgotten accounts.
You should really delete old accounts online
NEW YORK — The internet is riddled with long-forgotten accounts on social media, dating apps and various shopping sites used once or twice. Sure, you should delete all those unused logins and passwords. And eat your vegetables. And go to the gym.
But is it even possible to delete your zombie online footprints — or worth your time to do so?
Earlier this month, a littleused social network notified its few users that it will soon shut down. No, not Google Plus; that came five days later, following the disclosure of a bug that exposed data on a half-million people. The earlier shutdown involved Path, created by a former Facebook employee in 2010 as an alternative to Facebook. Then there’s Ello sending you monthly emails to remind you that this plucky but little-known social network still exists somehow.
It might not seem like a big deal to have these accounts linger. But with hacking in the news constantly, including a breach affecting nearly 30 million Facebook accounts, you might not want all that data sitting around.
You might not have a choice if it’s a service you use regularly. But for those you no longer use, consider a purge. Plus, it might feel good to get your online life in order, the way organizing a closet does.
Take dating apps such as Tinder, long after you found a steady partner or gave up on finding one. You might have deleted Tinder from your phone, but the ghost of your Tinder account is still out there — just not getting any matches, as Tinder shows only “active” users to potential mates.
Trouble is, cleaning up your digital past isn’t easy.
For one, finding all the old accounts can be a pain. For some of us, it might not even be possible to recall every dating site and every wouldbe Twitter that never was, not to mention shopping or event ticketing sites you bought one thing from and forgot about.
Perhaps a better approach is to focus on the most sensitive accounts. It might not matter than a news site still has your log in, if you never gave it a credit card or other personal details (of course, if you reused your bank password you might be at risk).
Rich Mogull, CEO of data security firm Securosis, said people should think about what information they had provided to services they no longer use and whether that information could be damaging should private posts and messages inadvertently become public.
Dating sites, in particular, can be a trove of potentially damaging information.