Should You Delete Old Unused Accounts? The Answer Is Yes

Deleting Old Accounts

Did you know that back in 2015, Myspace had about 50 million unique monthly visitors? It was thought that this sort of traffic was mostly generated by people logging into their old accounts so that they can download their old photos and share them again on Facebook and Instagram under the 'Throwback Tuesday' hashtag.

Myspace, for the younger among you, is perhaps the first really big social network. Although it appeared just a year before Facebook, by 2006, it was one of the world's biggest websites. At one point, hundreds of millions of users were on it, but when Mark Zuckerberg's giant appeared, many of them quickly migrated to what would become the world's biggest data aggregator. A vast portion of those people didn't go back to delete their old Myspace accounts.

The same goes for any online platform that has lost its popularity. It's also true for less high-ranking websites.

Let's take a look at a typical example. You need some advice on a particular topic, and you stumble upon a discussion board full of people who seemingly know what they're talking about. You register an account, you ask your question, and the "experts" dismissively tell you to go and use Google. Realizing that people of the Internet are often rude and unhelpful, you eventually find the information you are looking for, but you never bother to go back to the discussion board and delete your account.

Why don't people delete their accounts?

Put simply, because it's too much work. Often, service providers don't give clear instructions on where users need to click. Sometimes, deleting an account without contacting customer care is not possible, and when you do get in touch with a representative, you end up talking with a person whose job is to do everything they can to persuade you not to go. It can be a bit of a nightmare, and that's without even mentioning the vendors who put confusing options like "deactivating an account", which leave you wondering whether your information will actually be deleted.

Sometimes, of course, the users simply forget that the account existed in the first place, and Myspace is the perfect example. When Facebook emerged, people flocked to the then-new, trendy social media and forgot about Myspace pretty quickly. If you want to revisit those old photos that you have lost, an unused Myspace account that hasn't been deleted, could be good news. In every other aspect, however, it is a liability that you definitely don't want to have.

Why you should always delete your old and unused accounts

Although there are many fans of the Throwback Tuesday tradition, some people aren't so keen on letting the rest of the world know what they looked like or what their views on the world were in their teenage years. If you haven't deleted your Myspace account, you're doing just that.

Regardless of whether we're talking about social networks or something else, old and unused accounts are often full of personal information. Most of them were created when privacy wasn't such a concern, and people were freely posting their data everywhere without thinking too much about it. Now, that data can be abused, and it probably will be if you don't delete those old accounts.

There is, of course, the cybersecurity element as well. You have most likely reused passwords in your life, and you probably did it frequently in the past when cybersecurity was something didn't really worry about. If you still think that nobody's going to be attacking you over the internet, you most likely use the same password you used more than ten years ago.

If that's the case, leaving your old and unused accounts lying around is putting you at serious risks. If you have forgotten that you have an account at a particular website, someone else has probably done the same. In other words, the website in question has lost its popularity, and its owner has decided not to spend time and effort on trying to keep it secure. At one point, the hackers will break in, and if you're still using the same password for other accounts, you will end up in trouble. It's not just old, unpopular websites, either. Although the leaked data didn't appear until eight years later, Myspace was hacked right in its hay day in 2008. The hackers managed to make off with a whopping 360 million accounts.

In other words, online platforms, both big and small, will continue to suffer data breaches. The fewer of them are responsible for storing your data, the smaller the chance of having it exposed. And if it does get exposed, unique passwords for all your accounts are the only thing that could limit the damage.

October 22, 2018