Liberation

Deleted my Twitter account. Made it to 8,234 tweets, 401 following, 2,056 followers, and 209 lists (for what that’s worth) over three years. I’ve deleted my Facebook account as well. Open systems need more of my attention, and it’s time to vote with my feet.

Interestingly, the language for deleting your Twitter account has changed to “deactivating.” When you deactivate your account, your data isn’t deleted, and your email address and username are tied up, but it’s impossible to restore.

29 thoughts on “Liberation

  1. If you’re going to leave Twitter and Facebook, just do it. What’s the point of announcing it to everyone other than some sort of self-aggrandizing promotional stunt?

    Just sayin’.

    • It’s a political statement, as much to the world as to myself. And I didn’t “announce it”, per se; I wrote a short post on my personal blog to record the moment in time along with my current thoughts.

  2. Mark Coddington says:

    Deactivating the Twitter seems so permanent – what does that do for you that logging off of Twitter for a few months (or a couple of years) doesn’t? I’m just curious about what else went into the decision.

    • That’s a good question. I think my immediate response is that deactivating the account does have a greater appearance of permanence. This certainly wasn’t a decision I thought over for months but I have been struggling with an umbrella issue: data portability.

      Data portability, according to Wikipedia, “is the ability for people to reuse their data across interoperable applications – the ability for people to be able to control their identity, media and other forms of personal data.” Your data on Twitter (and Facebook) isn’t that portable. Sure you can access your some of your data in a reasonably open format but even then the data itself isn’t often reusable in other contexts.

      For instance, you can only retrieve 3,200 tweets from a Twitter timeline. This means that all of the tweets I sent from India via SMS during my 2008 trip are lost to the bowels of Twitter’s datacenters (if they even still exist). Thankfully, I can still read my posts from the trip because they still exist on my blog.

      Even if I could retrieve the tweets, they’re not that portable to new contexts. Simply copy and pasting the text to a blog post doesn’t save the information on how many times they were favorited, the timestamps, geo-location, etc.

      A few years ago, Snapfish changed the terms on their site so you had to purchase a print once a year to keep your “free” account active. A colleague of mine remembered to do this the first year, forgot to do it the second, and lost years of family photos for the mistake. There are hidden costs to the profusion of “free” services on the web users all too often glaze over.

      I’d rather invest my time using software that guarantees certain freedoms. Deactivating my Twitter account, as I mentioned to Andy, is as much of a political statement as anything else. Especially on the web, portability ensures freedom and permanence.

  3. Not so sure about the username being tied up forever. I think there are periodic purges from Twitter, but you might have to be plugged into the API to find out or watch a Twitter blog. Know there’s a guy in Charlotte who watches for when popular names are released and alerts folks who want them.

  4. Steven Walling says:

    So no Identi.ca for you?

    If anything is an open system, Status.net’s software is, but I have strange feeling your rejection of Twitter and Facebook has a lot more to do with disconnecting and slowing down than it is to do with supporting open systems.

    If so, I totally understand. But let’s be honest here.

    • Good point, it may be a bit of both. I had a Status.net instance for a while I was using to log bits of data about my life but I’ve moved that mostly to a spreadsheet. When I think about what I used Twitter for, it was mostly sharing links and posting updates about whatever event I was at. I’d rather use WordPress.

      Now WordPress’ most significant challenge against Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr as a publishing platform is that it has a Web 1.0 reading interface. You still have to visit every blog you want to read unless you’re technologically sophisticated enough to use an RSS reader. This is a solvable problem, though. A real-time reading interface would be even better.

  5. Mathew Ingram says:

    That’s a shame, Daniel — I will try to keep up with your blog, but it would be so much easier to stay in touch if you were on Twitter.

    • But isn’t that just mental laziness on your part? There are a few websites I remember to visit every day without being reminded by Twitter or anything else. Why do I remember them? Because they’re important to me. If Daniel’s writing is important to you, you’ll remember to visit.

  6. Michelle Leis says:

    What kind of delusional logic led you to believe that deleting your FB & Twitter would liberate you? This is so lame. What’s the point? How many times have you deleted your account in the past? And how many times have you come back? The reason you keep coming back is because Twitter & FB are good tools. After all that talk about how great Twitter is! This is not very inspiring.

  7. I guess the hardest thing to live without is an email address. It’s like the lowest common denominator. Could you ever liberate yourself from email?

    The only people I know who don’t have an email address are in their 80’s or above, or are children! Can you imagine asking people to phone you if they want to get hold of you? They reply… what’s your email? I don’t have one :-)

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