How to commit digital harakiri

Remember the good ol’ days, when you only had one Inbox to check once or twice a day? Those were simpler times.

Things have changed as the communications paradigm of our modern, digital and hyper-connected society have adapted to Internet messaging. Now the world is more complicated and you don’t even remember how many Inboxes you own anymore.

You use applications just to manage all of the places where messages come in and the number of messages continues to skyrocket as you desperately try to manage it all.

You have 20,000 unread e-mail messages, 400 unread Twitter messages, a new conversation thread on Facebook, six requests for connections on LinkedIn. You still plan to check out those new photo albums on Flickr and listen to your friends band on MySpace.

Frazzled, you go to log in to your “You Face” account, only to then remember it’s a fictional social network on TV show 30 Rock.

It’s too much. But there’s a way out.

If you feel overloaded and overburdened with digital communications, you can end it. Stare your digital persona in the eyes, grit your teeth and pull the trigger – you’ll never have to think about “maintaining your personal brand” ever again.

Here’s how to delete your social networking accounts from the most popular sites.

Facebook

Facebook has perhaps been the most-criticized social network when it comes to extracting yourself from its digital grip. Notorious for its practice of “deactivating” accounts, only to keep your information indefinitely on its servers in case you ever came crawling back.

It is possible to delete your account entirely, as I described last year in How to delete – not just ‘deactivate’ – your Facebook account. Facebook has also been working to improve the process since being called out by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner for not making the “delete” option apparent enough to users.

But if you want the ability to completely cut the connection to Facebook in a nutshell, here’s the simplest way: log-in to your account and click on this link. Then select “Submit” and finally be rid of all that Farmville spam.

Twitter

Twitter makes account deletion easy and accessible. When you choose to delete your account, within 30 days all your information will be scrubbed. During that time, the same user name and e-mail address you used for the account won’t be accessible for new Twitter accounts.

Just log-in to Twitter and enter this URL https://twitter.com/account/delete to pull the trigger. Click on the large “Okay, fine, delete my account” button. The crying bird may tug on your heart strings, but be strong and carry through with it.

LinkedIn

Much like Twitter’s account removal system, LinkedIn’s “close account” option can be found in your account settings area. Deleting your account will take an indeterminate period of time, during which you can e-mail customer service and ask it to be reactivated.

To make it simple, log-in to LinkedIn and just click on this link and choose your reason for leaving from the list. Then click “Continue” and you’ll never have to accept new connections again.

Windows Live

Even if you don’t know it, you have probably created a Windows Live ID account during your Web wanderings. There are a myriad of services offered by Microsoft that create a user profile for this grab-bag social network. It includes your MSN Messenger contacts, Hotmail, Skydrive, and other stuff no one really uses.

If you’re at peace with leaving all of that digital baggage in the past, you can close your account and have the information permanently deleted from Microsoft’s clutches. But if you use paid-for subscription services, it gets a bit more complicated. You’ll need to close those services, and then you can close your Live account entirely.

When you’re ready to close your Windows Live account, just log-in and click on this link. At the bottom of the page, you’ll be asked to re-enter your password and click “yes” to complete the deed. Goodbye spam.

You can reactivate your account for 120 days on Hotmail just by signing in. During that waiting period, all your mail will be deleted and e-mail sent to the account will bounce back.

Actually, if you ever go for 120 days without logging into Hotmail, your account will become inactive. After 210 days, the account will be deleted. So just doing nothing will eventually do the job by default.

MySpace

MySpace also allows you to cancel your account through the account settings options. In the past, some users have complained that accounts remained visible after a cancelation request. To follow up on your deletion, e-mail MySpace customer service at help@support.myspace.com.

Once you’ve logged in to your account, just enter this URL in your address bar: http://profileedit.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=accountSettings.cancelAccount. MySpace will ask you to choose a reason that you’re leaving and then you click the “Cancel My Account” button. Then you’ll be asked to confirm once more, and finally MySpace will send you an e-mail with final instructions to follow.

Google

Google started off as an innocent search engine that was particularly good at scouring the Web. Then it waded into the communications waters with e-mail, and eventually chat, then delved full-on into the social space with Google Profiles and Buzz.

If it’s just the latest Buzz service that is annoying you, it’s easy enough to turn that off and continue to use your Gmail account. Just delve into your Gmail settings and look for the “Buzz” tab. Alternately, log-in to your account and go to this URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/?search=inbox&shva=1#settings/buzz. Then you can select the “Disable Google Buzz” link at the bottom and click the “Save Changes” button. That’s one Twitter duplication service down.

But if you’re just fed up with Google entirely and want to wipe out other services, go to this URL: https://www.google.com/accounts/EditServices. Google allows you to edit accounts and delete products individually, such as Gmail, AdWords and Google Video. Or there’s an option to totally wipe your account and all services associated with it. 

Follow Brian Jackson on Twitter, he won’t be deleting his account any time soon.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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