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Ask Slashdot: Getting an Uncooperative Website To Delete One's Account? 171

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-reply-to-a-phantom-comment-do-you-exist? dept.
First time accepted submitter trentfoley writes "I've been trying to clean up my digital life (insert joke about having a life) and have run into a situation I fear is too common. Many social websites, nextdoor.com in particular, do not allow a user to delete the account they created. In the case of nextdoor.com, their privacy policy makes it clear that the user owns all of their data. If this is true, I should have the right to destroy that data. These lines of thought brought to mind the recent privacy defeat in Europe. Does the defeat of the EU's Right-to-be-Forgotten legislation bring a practical end to this debate?" I've read complaints today from Nextdoor.com users who say their data was sold, too.
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Ask Slashdot: Getting an Uncooperative Website To Delete One's Account?

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  • Re:call them (Score:5, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:03PM (#45807769) Homepage Journal

    Common advice for getting that big social networking site to respond to requests is to mail a paper letter to their HQ, possibly attn: legal affairs. Apparently the success rate is very high.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:03PM (#45807773)

    Discussion lists traditionally don't give you a right to delete previous postings: Usenet and mailing list archives are forever. One rationale is simply technical inability (archives aren't controlled by a central authority), but there's also a sense that deleting miscellaneous posts from archives fragments the record of past conversations.

    So, Nextdoor has forums and discussions. It seems fair to me that they don't retroactively delete posts from those. Therefore they need to maintain some kind of attribution to the now-deleted account. So they can't fully delete the account, in the sense of wiping any traces, but they could just make it a non-operable "deactivated" account that still has the posts attributed, but can't be used anymore. They might agree to hide the profile in this case, as well. Turns out, that is precisely what they do support [nextdoor.com].

  • Re:call them (Score:4, Informative)

    by plover (150551) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:06PM (#45807785) Homepage Journal

    Being nice is generally the key to resolving these things quickly and in your favor. Come in threatening lawsuits, and they'll ignore you until you actually engage a lawyer (at your own expense. )

  • Violate the TOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by crmanriq (63162) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:18PM (#45807873)

    Well. As a last resort.
    1) Change all of your user data that you can. Edit your profile so that all of the data is either blank, or not yours at all.
    2) Edit your age down to below 13 years old. This may kick in automatic account privacy settings.
    3) If none of this works, then look at the TOS and find things that they don't want you to do. (ie, Wikipedia freaks out if you mention suing them on any forum. A TOS might make it a violation to badmouth the parent company, or to solicit other users. You might think of creating a couple of throwaway accounts, and getting into a royal flamewar with your invisible clones. Call them really bad names. Threaten to sue them.)
    4) Do not let number three go into the realm of anything illegal. Don't post porn in public fora. You simply want to make yourself unwelcome at this location.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:25PM (#45807925)

    In the UK, the Data Protection Act requires that they delete your data on request.

  • Re:call them (Score:5, Informative)

    by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:31PM (#45807967)

    Common advice for getting that big social networking site to respond to requests is to mail a paper letter to their HQ, possibly attn: legal affairs. Apparently the success rate is very high.

    another good way is if there is a place to put age set is as under 12 many will delete it immediately due to law concerning keeping data about children.

  • Ownership (Score:5, Informative)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:52PM (#45808071)

    There are many comments about the ownership of the posts and how if the poster owned the posts he should be able to delete them. I have a different view.

    From the Nextdoor Member Agreement [nextdoor.com]:

    Content. You retain all ownership rights to the text, photos, video and other content you submit to Nextdoor.com (collectively, your “Content”). We can publish your Content in your neighborhood website or to nearby neighborhoods as described in our privacy policy.

    Notice they say rights. The poster owns the posts in that the poster is responsible for the content and the site can not sell or copy the posts to other sites. Those are the general copyright laws. The issue comes in that by posting on the site the owner has given a copy to someone else, much like giving someone a book. The poster still owns the right to the post but not ownership of that specific copy.

    This is from the Privacy Policy [nextdoor.com]:

    Data Modification/Deletion. You can delete your account by contacting us. Alternatively, you can delete most types of individual Content items. Deleting your account will delete all Content you provided, except that we may choose to retain Content incorporated into the neighborhood's conversations (and, as applicable, nearby neighborhoods); and we may attribute that Content to your name even after you depart. If we allow you to change neighborhoods on our site, we may retain your conversation contributions in your old neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods (and keep the attribution to your name) but allow you to move your profile to your new neighborhood. If you are the subject of an unauthorized profile, please contact us.

    It looks pretty explicit that they will retain conversations.

  • by Burz (138833) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:06PM (#45808481) Journal

    Its called 'DeleteMe' [abine.com] and you can check with them to see if they can help you with particular sites.

    This is the same group that makes the anti-tracking browser addon 'DoNotTrackMe'.

  • Re:call them (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:19PM (#45808537)

    FYI:

    Entity Name: NEXTDOOR.COM, INC.
    Entity Number: C3063398
    Date Filed: 01/24/2008
    Status: ACTIVE
    Jurisdiction: DELAWARE
    Entity Address: 101 SPEAR STREET SUITE 230
    Entity City, State, Zip: SAN FRANCISCO CA 94105
    Agent for Service of Process: WILSON CHAN
    Agent Address: 101 SPEAR ST STE 230
    Agent City, State, Zip: SAN FRANCISCO CA 94105

  • by Burz (138833) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:56PM (#45808669) Journal

    Its called 'DeleteMe' [abine.com] and you can check with them to see if they can help you with particular sites.

    This is the same group that makes the anti-tracking browser addon 'DoNotTrackMe'.

    Seems there are modtrolls who don't want people to know about DeleteMe...

  • by craigminah (1885846) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:27PM (#45808801)
    Slashdot won't delete your account either

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