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With every new year comes many resolutions. Usually, those resolutions are designed to change one's life for the better.

For those who are literally addicted to online social networking, a possible resolution: commit online suicide. Depending on how many accounts you have and the particular services you're looking to ditch, however, that can be a tough resolution to keep.

Fortunately, there's the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. The work of Rotterdam-based Moddr, the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine lets you log off for good without much hassle. Just provide your login details for popular Web 2.0 websites you use and the Suicide Machine can do the dirty work of essentially deleting your online profiles. On Facebook, for instance, this entails getting rid of just about everything, including your friends, and changing your password so that you can't log back in.

The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine stops short of deleting your accounts whole, but that's apparently not good enough for Facebook, which has banned IP address used by The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. The social networking giant has also sent a cease and desist letter to Seppukoo.com, a similar service that allows Facebook users to kill off their Facebook profiles.

The not-so-subtle message Facebook is sending with its aggressive response to these services: it's mortified at the spectre of its users committing online suicide en masse. The reason: even though the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine and Seppukoo.com are never realistically going to affect Facebook's active user count, they reflect growing discontent amongst many users of online social networks.

Not only are some users recognizing that they're addicted to the popular online time sinks, the negative consequences of online social networking are becoming more visible. From employers who increasingly check the profiles of prospective hires to growing security threats, there is no shortage of reasons why using a social networking isn't all fun and games anymore.

If enough users commit online suicide Web 2.0 Suicide Machine style or simply curtail their level of use and information sharing, the Facebooks of the world will find that their business models, which depend on the 'social graph' and information sharing, could find themselves fighting to maintain their position on the web.

In the case of Facebook itself, it has nobody else to blame for the suicide threat and it would probably be wise to address the root cause of the problem. By abandoning its original setup and becoming more 'open', Facebook has given users good reason to commit online suicide. The only question now is whether or not Facebook is in the process of killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Patricio Robles

Published 5 January, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Vincent Roman

Patricio - Great entry and oh so true. Head count is, for better or for worse, always going to be part of the estimation of a company's value. As you say these sites will have little impact on the hundreds of millions of users of facebook, so why not let them be? I can understand they might have moral objections to their apparent insensitivity of the depiction of suicide as being something so casual, but who are they to say? What next, ban people from writing articles on howt o delete your account or to make them more private?

over 6 years ago

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Mark

Surely the reason for Facebook banning these sites is that the user is giving away their login details. Who's to say that the third party sites won't use those details (after chaning the password) for illicit purposes. By using one of these sites you are effectively giving access to your and your friends personal information. You'd have to be stupid to do it.

over 6 years ago

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Matthew Shipley

I was looking at reports of this earlier today, from what I understood the main argument from Facebook was that Suicide Machine collects user logon information which would be against the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (even though Suicide Machine claims to only store the name, user image and last message).

Social media sites, moreso now that most have an open API are always going to attract some form of mass function and a semi revolt against them was surely on the cards at some point.

My only worry with this form of social deletion is the possibility of loosing a lot of information, if logon details were obtained or passed onto users who wanted to damage your online presence, killing off large chunk of your audience would be pretty quick!

Security aside I don't see individual users making use of the service to be detremental to the market - if they are making the effort to avoid social media now then social marketing is surely not the best way to reach them.

over 6 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Mark, Matthew,

Facebook is certainly going to claim that the login details matter is the reason for the ban but I still argue that there's far more to it than that. These are marginal, novelty websites that aren't going to affect Facebook. The amount of energy Facebook is spending trying to shut them down, however, is a strong hint that Facebook is concerned about any service or tool that makes it easy for users to kill off their accounts. With more users considering "logging off" permanently, you can be sure Facebook and other social networks don't want anything like The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine to grow in popularity.

Another point: judging by how difficult Facebook and other social networking sites make it for the average user to delete accounts (and how few of them actually remove your content even after your accounts are "deleted"), I think it's clear that these services are very interested in keeping users on life support so to speak -- at all costs.

over 6 years ago

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Filip

Well the login details is no longer interesting after the deletion unless the user have used the same password on other sites. So what use is these things after a user has left the network??

As Others have already said, it might be the login credential thing that they use officially. But the real reason must be that they don't want it to be easy to leave. I'm pretty sure that if it were legal they would make it impossible to "get out"

almost 5 years ago

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