Deleting online trail proves difficult

Website helps navigate confusing process

Author: Sean Lavin, Assignment Editor, slavin@wkmg.com
Published On: Nov 14 2013 06:46:13 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 15 2013 12:56:06 PM EST

If you've ever decided to try to delete your social media accounts and online trail, it's not as easy as you might think.

"They make it as hard as humanely possible by giving you the run around," said Eric Griffith of PCMag.com.

[WEB EXTRA: DeleteMe]

It's becoming an issue for people in the millennial generation -- who grew up posting embarrassing moments on platforms like Facebook -- as they begin their search for a professional job.

Kenia Arias says she's noticed inappropriate things posted online that could cost people jobs. Although she sees others doing it, she won't be posting anything that could hurt her.

"I wouldn't because, if anything, it would affect my business in a negative way," Arias said.

Whether it was a post that went too far during political season, or a post and picture about a drunk night on the town, people are trying to erase their online identity -- and running into roadblocks.

"Sometimes it's just hiding the ability to get off the site altogether," Griffith said. "And you're left with doing things like cancelling your credit card to get out of having to pay for the things, that type of thing."

The situation is becoming such a problem, entire websites have been setup just to help people navigate through deleting online accounts. JustDelete.Me is one of them.

It lists dozens of websites and color codes them to show just how easy, hard -- or impossible -- it is to delete your online accounts. Go Daddy, for example, is nearly impossible to delete. Facebook is ranked as moderately hard to delete.

However, once you delete your account, your online trail may still linger. For example, when Facebook is deleted, some things you've shared with others may be left behind.

Griffith says even if you've feel like you've totally cleaned the slate, everything doesn't really go away.

"That's why there's always a warning out there: if you're not willing to share it with everyone and have it be around for the rest of humanity, don't put it online," he said.

It's a warning that may come too late for some, especially those who used social media in their teenage years.

"The biggest thing is to never post anything you'd think would be even remotely embarrassing to you," Griffith said. "This goes especially for teens and college students of today who are out having a good time and posting things that are great fun for their friends. That stuff is still there years later when you're out for that first job interview."