Comparing Ease of Deleting Accounts

(Updated to include LinkedIn)

Given the recent focus on increasing numbers of users deleting their Facebook accounts due to the recent privacy disaster, and some of the past barriers that made it hard to accomplish at all, I decided to perform a comparison of the relative ease/difficulty of deleting one’s account on some popular websites: Amazon, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, MSN, MySpace, Twitter, and Yahoo.

While you shouldn’t expect closing an account to be an easy task (they don’t want to encourage it), it shouldn’t be painfully difficult, either. In the end, closing accounts on Facebook and MSN was very difficult, while it was a very easy on Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. Amazon, Yahoo, and Google all fell in the middle. Details below.

Amazon

If you’re hoping to delete your Amazon.com account, the first place you’ll likely click is the small “Your Account” link in the upper right corner of the homepage. This page, however, provides no obvious means of deleting your account.

Next, you can try the “Help” link. Again, there are no obvious links to a page that would help you delete your account, so instead you can search for “delete account” using the search box at the top of the page. As you start typing “del…”, Amazon actually suggests “delete account” as the search terms you’re looking for.

Closing your account” is the first result provided from this search. This page notes that once closed, your account cannot be reopened. Surprisingly, however, you need to send Amazon a request to close your account using their standard “Contact Us” messaging system — there is no link or button to simply activate the deletion process.

Rating: Moderately Easy

Facebook

Deleting one’s account on Facebook is a daunting task. Facebook provides no simple means to request account deletion. The logical places for users to look — Account Settings — only provides a link to the account deactivation page (complete with its own guilt trip to try to persuade you against temporarily deactivating your account).

Facebook’s privacy settings page offers no immediate or obvious access to deletion procedures, nor do the security or safety portals.

Finally, if you search for “delete account at the Help Center, you get a list of results, and down at result #8 (!!) you find “How do I permanently delete my account?“. Click here, and you first get a description of how to deactivate your account — not what you came here for — and then in the second paragraph do you finally learn how to delete your account through the link provided.

Once you’ve confirmed you want to delete your account by completing a captcha, you learn that your account has actually only been deactivated, and will only truly be deleted if you don’t log back into Facebook within the next 14 days.

Rating: Very Difficult

Google

When logged into Google, the first place to look for instructions to delete one’s Google account is to go to Google Account Settings (from the Settings drop-down menu on the Google homepage). There was no obvious guidance for deleting an account on this page, so the next place to look is the Help Center. There, you are presented a search box with the prompt “What can we help you with?”. I typed “delete account”, and the first result is for a page providing information about deleted your Google account.

These instructions point you back to the Google Accounts page, where you are supposed to click “edit” next to the “My Products” title. Here, you can delete specific, stand-alone Google products (like Gmail) or you can “Close account and delete all services and info associated with it“.

On the next page, you must confirm your desire to delete your Google Account by clicking a box next to each product you’ve used, as well as two additional verifications that you indeed wish to delete your account. Then, it’s gone.

Rating: Kinda Difficult

LinkedIn

From the main LinkedIn page, the “Settings” link in the upper right corner brings you to a page that includes a link to “Close your account“. Here, you simply select the reason for closing (LinkedIn will provide some quick links to help resolve any apparent concerns in hopes that you’ll stick around), and then confirm the deletion on the following page. Simple as that.

Rating: Very Easy

MSN

I couldn’t find any place on the MSN.com page where I could access my account (not even the green “Settings” tab on menu bar). So, I scrolled down and clicked the “Help” link. That wasn’t much help either, so I clicked on the “Windows Live ID” link. That took me to a page discussing various details of the Windows Live ID sign-in feature. Buried in this page is a link to “Sign in to Account Services“, and once I clicked that I finally found the MSN Account Services page.

Neither the “Account Information” nor the “Privacy & Security” links offered any assistance for deleting my account. So I clicked on “Customer Support“, which brought me to a page with a link for “Close your account“. Here I have the option to “close my MSN account but don’t delete my credentials” (I can still login to other Windows Live services with my email and password), or “Close my MSN account and delete my credentials”. I’m also warned that “Closing your MSN account will not delete personal information you may have given to individual Windows Live ID sites and services. You should sign in to those sites and delete your personal information before you close your MSN account”.

Rating: Very Difficult

MySpace

From the MySpace homepage, the “My Account” link takes you to your account settings page. From here, you can click on “Account” and be taken to a page with a section on Account Cancellation. Click “Cancel Account” and once you tell them why you’re leaving (“There is too much drama”), you’re done.

Rating: Very Easy

Twitter

From the Twitter homepage, you can click on Settings and be taking to your account settings page. At the bottom of the page is a link to Deactivate my account. Clicking this brings you to a confirmation page that warns you about the fact that deactivation is permanent (compared to Facebook’s version of “deactivation”), that your account might remain viewable on Twitter for a couple of days while they process the deactivation, and that Twitter can’t do anything about your tweets that might be indexed/cached by search engines.

Then, just click “Ok, fine, deactivate my account”, and you’re account is deleted.

Rating: Very Easy

Yahoo

From the MyYahoo start page, the first place I think of clicking is on my name in the upper right corner, which takes me to my profile page. Here, I can click on “Account Info”, but that page doesn’t offer any means of deleting my account. Instead, I click on Help, and search for “delete account” (Yahoo’s auto-suggest offers that to me as I type). The first result is “How do I close my Yahoo account“.

Here, I am warned about the impact of closing my account, and am told to follow the instructions on the Account Termination page. On that page, I’m given another warning about the severity of my actions, asked for my password, and I must solve a captcha. Then, my account is gone.

Rating: Kinda Difficult

3 Comments

  1. Michael, Great post, as always. Try LinkedIn. It is a nightmare. I cannot get into my account for some reason and cannot delete it through other means. Customer service does not email you back. Urgh!

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Danielle. I’ve now added LinkedIn, which makes it quite easy to close the account (but that assumes you can successfully login in the first place!).

    Reply
  3. it seems that what yahoo actually does is deactivate your account.you can still log back (via password recovery) and reactivate it.it only gets deleted after 90 days. Ps: I was shocked that i was able to reactivate (via password recovery) an account i havent used in over 5 years though my mails were gone.i suppose i deleted it then.

    Reply

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