We’ve blogged here before about the burgeoning data portability movement. The appealing aspect of data portability is that it would make it easy for us to essentially copy and paste our personal information from one place into a new place.
But another aspect of data portability could and should be the ability to move your personal information right off the Internet altogether. Jean Burgess, a researcher based in Australia, recently blogged about the frustrations of removing herself from the social networking site Facebook. She writes:
“Oh, and by the way, in order to delete your Facebook account, apparently, you have to not only deactivate it, but also delete every single item you have contributed to the site (messages, wall posts, posts other people have written on your wall, photos, links to contacts, profile information) and then email customer service and request they delete your account completely. Oh, and also, in order to delete absolutely everything, I’d also have to re-add every single one of the applications I’ve ever had installed, and then go through and remove the content, and then delete the applications again. Because when you delete an application, guess what? Your data is still stored there somewhere.”
Sites like this (and the software developers that partner with them) don’t make it easy to take back your digital footprint. And they likely won’t change their practices until a critical mass of users start to clamour for change.