In today’s woke internet culture, if someone tells you to “delete your account”, it’s usually not because they’re concerned for your internet privacy. Nevertheless, you may want to delete online accounts that you haven’t used in a while. Old accounts are susceptible to hackers, and any information you’ve left sitting around could leave you vulnerable to identity theft, financial loss, and additional account takeovers.
But as anyone who’s ever tried to delete an online account can attest to, it’s not always as simple as logging into the website and clicking “delete account” in the settings. Many sites now hide their account deletion methods within a labyrinth of web page links, while others won’t let you delete your account without imposing archaic rigamarole, like sending a support email.
This being the case, you may need to use an account deletion service that can help you navigate a website’s account termination process.
Best account deletion websites
Not many websites occupy this space, but the two best sites to help you delete online accounts include:
- AccountKiller: Provides step-by-step information on how to delete over 1,500 online accounts.
- JustDelete.me: Over 500 account deletion guides, color-coded green, yellow, and red for the difficulty in deleting accounts.
Based on size alone, AccountKiller is, well, a killer service for account deletion information. Much of the information on this site is user-submitted, so it may not always be as accurate as possible. However, with over 1,500 sites and services listed in its database, it’s undeniably the largest of the two options on our list.
To delete an account with AccountKiller, do the following:
- Use the search function at the top to search for a specific account you want to delete
- Open the guide and follow the account deletion information provided
Account Killer offers a whitelist and a blacklist. Whitelisted websites are those that offer easy account deletion methods, usually through a link on the site via your account settings. Meanwhile, blacklist sites are those that are almost impossible, if not entirely impossible, to delete. The site also has a gray list for sites that do allow account deletion, but that also make you jump through an annoying number of hoops or links to get there.
What we like most about AccountKiller
The sheer number of accounts here makes it a good source to turn to. There are unlikely to be many sites you may have an account on which don’t have information listed here.
What we don’t like about AccountKiller
To be frank, the site is a hot mess of advertisements. Its information is also poorly laid out. Navigating the site without an adblocker could be a nightmare for some people, especially if you’re using a slow computer or web browser.
Although JustDelete.me has fewer pages highlighting the account deletion processes for different online sites and services, it’s much easier to navigate than AccountKiller. It’s also now part of the larger BackgroundChecks.org ecosystem.
To delete an account with JustDelete.me, do the following:
- Type in the name of the website name in the search bar
- Click on the website name in the bottom square to open that site’s account deletion page
Like AccountKiller, JustDelete.me uses a color-coding system to help users determine the difficulty involved in deleting their accounts with a website. JustDelete me uses green for “easy”, yellow for “medium”, red for “hard” and black for “impossible”.
JustDelete.me also has a useful Chrome extension, (available on the Chrome Web Store with a 4.5/5 rating), which accesses the JustDelete.me database. Whenever you’re on a website for which JustDelete.me has account deletion information, the extension’s icon will light up either green, yellow, red, or black, depending on the account deletion difficulty of that site. This extension is also handy to help avoid signing up for websites that make it either difficult or impossible to remove your account later on.
What we like most about JustDelete.me
Unlike AccountKiller, JustDelete.me feels more like an automated system for account deletion. The website offers a clean, snappy interface, while the Chrome extension is incredibly useful for anyone looking to clean up their online account situation.
What we don’t like about JustDelete.me
As this service does not offer user-submitted information, it has a smaller number of website account deletion information in its database.
Wait…Did you say some accounts can’t be deleted?
That’s correct. Some websites simply do not allow you to delete your account. At all. Many websites now sell user information or incorporate user information into their business practices. What you may find is that instead of allowing you to delete an account, some services instead only let you delete your personal information on the site, while the account itself (including the username and password) are maintained in the system.
To note, this is legally allowed in the US. While all US businesses must offer at least two avenues to identify and delete account information—one of which must be a toll-free number—US businesses do not have to delete the account itself. Instead, businesses are allowed to de-identify and aggregate your personal information.
Some major companies and sites which do not allow account deletion include:
- Barnes and Noble
- Gawker Media websites (Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, etc.)
- Playstation Network
There’s more, of course. And many, many others do allow account deletion but make it incredibly difficult to delete your account by employing strict and notably annoying user retention methods.
Why should I bother deleting my old accounts?
If you have old online accounts, you’ve likely had your information stolen in a past data breach, at a minimum. While nearly half of the US was impacted by the Equifax breach, many online users likely lost their name, email address, phone numbers, and even SSNs in smaller, lesser-reported data breaches over the years. And for many people, that data loss is likely tied to older online accounts, many of which were long forgotten.
A major concern with old accounts is also credential stuffing. This occurs when hackers use leaked data breaches to attempt to login to other websites. This process is fairly automated, and hackers will use username and password combinations across a number of sites to determine which ones work.
If you’re re-using passwords, or have not implemented multi-factor authentication where possible, your old, stolen information could be easily used to access other online accounts.
Also, note that your data is not always going to stay put with one company. When companies get bought or merge, that data gets transferred instead of deleted. It’s possible an old website that you used is not defunct, but that data was transferred into the hands of another company that changed the name of the site. Your login information could still work on the new website, or could just be stored in that company’s database (and be just as vulnerable).
You can determine if you were part of a data breach by going to the website HaveIBeenPwned. Just enter any email address you currently or previously used to see if and when it was leaked in a data breach, as well as what other information was lost along with it.
Deleting accounts when there’s no online system
In the US, all websites are required to have both a toll-free number and an online process to request account deletion or personal information erasure. As noted earlier, sites don’t have to comply with the account deletion request, but they do have to at least anonymize or de-identify your information in that account.
In cases where you simply can’t find the online account information, you may need to send a formal request by mail or email. There are no set formats for this. If you’re unsure of where to start, using a template is a good idea.
Those in the US can use this free template from Wonder.Legal.
However, if you’re in the EU and you’re under GDPR, we recommend using the datarequests.org request generator.