This app promises to help you disappear.
Several times a day, your phone hollers at you. Whether you’re spending time with family, going to the bathroom or watching TV, you check it, hoping that some exhilarating update will momentarily transport you out of the mundane drudgery of daily life.
Maybe it’s Facebook, telling you not that someone you love is saying something meaningful to you, but that they’ve “liked” your latest post, or that someone you don’t know has posted something you don’t want to read on a group page you haven’t visited in months. Or it’s email, and you sift through the queue, which in these days of social media and texting is basically all ads from companies. Or it’s Twitter, and you read some yahoo’s tweet reply that feels like a punch in the stomach.
Is any of this doing you any good? Do you ever dream about just giving it all up and disappearing from the internet? Well, a new app promises exactly that.
Under the giddy headline “Delete yourself from the internet by pushing this button,” TheNextWeb reports that Deseat.me “offers to wipe your entire existence off the internet in a few clicks.” The Swedish app’s tagline proclaims that you will “instantly get a list of all your accounts, matched with direct links to delete them.” The promise of stemming the flood of promotional emails into my inbox, and the security of knowing these fly-by-night companies weren’t storing my data (until their next security breach) was tantalizing. I decided to give it a go.
“Instantly get a list of all your accounts, matched with direct links to delete them.”
First off, Deseat.me isn’t going to get you completely off the internet if you have emails from multiple providers, because it only scans for accounts made with Google email addresses.
After I entered mine, the app quickly produced a list of the sites that maintained an account using that address. I was stunned. There were about 200, from services I recognized, like Windows.com, to sites I’d purchased something from a decade ago. They were all keeping my information, and many of them were sending me junk mail on a regular basis. Deseat.me gave me the option to keep them or add them to a delete queue. After looking through the accounts, I decided to keep 55 and kill 148.
TheNextWeb reports, “Every account it finds gets paired with an easy delete link pointing to the unsubscribe page for that service.”
It wasn’t that simple.
Deleting an account took way more than the promised “a few clicks.” There’s no auto-delete on Deseat.me. The site just links you to the delete page on whichever company’s website you want to delete your account from. That means you have to either 1) know all your passwords or 2) click the “forgot password?” link and reset your password, which is a many-step process.
Most of the accounts Deseat.me was able to provide “delete” links for were for pretty above-board corporate websites, like Facebook, UPS.com, Apple.com and Etsy. In a few cases, the provided delete link was dead.
Furthermore, Deseat.me did not provide any delete links for the sites I really don’t want storing my data or sending me emails. These include florists in Hong Kong, where I used to live, shady e-commerce outfits I bought something from once, adware-infested sites like The Pirate Bay, and spammers. For most sites in my delete queue, I got the message, “No link available at this time ????. Check back soon!” More like ????.
Still, the accounts I deleted will meaningfully decrease how much corporate email I get. And undoubtedly, Deseat.me or services like it are going to become more efficient and better integrated with websites. So for those of you who want to “go dark” on the web, the future is bright.