“Facebook Suicide?” How Some People Are Deleting Their Virtual Personas

A recent Google search on how to properly delete one’s Facebook account yielded some unexpected results!  I came across some articles about websites that assist users in committing “Facebook suicide” and/or the self-killing of other social network profiles.

Seppukoo.com is a site created by Les Liens invisibles, the “imaginary” media-art duo Clemente Pestelli and Gionatan Quintini.  They refer to their creation as a virus ” . . . haunting the busy communication highways of the social networking sphere.”  The site name refers to “seppuku,” or the ritual suicide of the Samauri warrior.

You are more than your virtual identity.
«Virtual life» is an – often – abused term used to describe the whole of one person online activities. But as media communications let our second/online/offline identities overflowing into real life – and vice-versa – the distinctions between the real and the virtual are becoming, more and more confused. Which is virtual? And where’s the real? Beyond all those questions only a fact remains: that our privacy, our profiles, our identities, our relationships, they are all – fake and/or real – entirely exploited for a sole purpose: to be sold as a product. But are those lives really worth to be experienced? 
  –from the Seppukoo website

Those who use the site’s services provide Seppukoo with their Facebook log-in information and are then able to send out their last words to friends and customize their own memorial page.

Another site, Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, functions in a similar way and takes it a step further, enabling users to delete not only Facebook, but Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts.  As the site’s homepage proclaims,”This machine lets you delete all your energy sucking social-networking profiles, kill your fake virtual friends, and completely do away with your Web2.0 alter ego.”

Recently, Facebook has ordered Seppukoo and Web 2.0 Suicide Machine to cease and desist, citing that their services violate Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.  Use the link below to access copies of these letters that have been made available on their sites:

Some folks, like Micah M. White of Adbusters.org, argue that Facebook intentionally makes it difficult to delete an account using the tools they provide.  You can go into your Account Settings and Deactivate your account, but your personal information will stay on Facebook’s servers.  If it is your private information that you are worried about, not everyone is convinced that using sites like Seppukoo or Web 2.0 Suicide Machine are any better in removing that information.  As Rafe Needlemen of CNET has said,”My advice: If you want to remove yourself from a social site, use the end-of-account tools on the site itself. It’s a less painful way to go.”

That said, after going to Facebook’s Help Center and doing a search, one will find this on the subject of deleting an account, permanently:

If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, please keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and then submit your request by clicking here.

There is no doubt that these services are provocative!  Some think these sites are playful and fun, while others call them morbid and disturbing.  Unarguably, the mere existence of such services points to some interesting questions about online identity and privacy.

Read more about this fascinating, seemingly inevitable phenomenon:

How to Disappear From Facebook and Twitter
Kill Off Your Facebook identity with Seppukoo
Facebook Cuts Off Suicide Machine Access
Fed Up with Facebook Privacy Issues? Here’s How to End It All
Facebook Suicide: The End of a Virtual Life
Quitting Facebook Gets Easier

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