Brandon Writes

From the Archive: Electronic Ghosts 🗄️

Originally Published July 28th, 2022

I’m pretty meticulous about deleting accounts online. I do my best to never register unless I have to, and whenever I’m done using a product I go through all the necessary steps to delete it. So, it’s pretty rare for me to get an email about a forgotten account.

On Wednesday, I received an email from Marco Polo, an app I didn’t remember existed. Apparently, I had an unwatched video message from 2,135 days ago. That’s right, I got a notification that I had an unwatched video from September 21st, 2016.

I wonder what was going through the developer’s heads? Man, our app is lagging with engagement, let’s spam everyone who has an unwatched video despite when it was recorded.

What made this awkward for me is that the video message was from my ex-wife. Seeing an email with her picture and name pop up was already startling enough and then I had to figure out how to proceed. Do I just ignore the email and hope that no more come? Or do I install the app, so that I can delete my account and put a permanent stop to this?

Brandon Writes

Of course, I went for the full deletion. I had to install this app, get it synced back to my phone number, and then go in and delete my account. All the while being pushed images and videos from my past that I’d preferred not to have.

All-in-all the process took less than five minutes, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was haunted my digital past. It makes me think there should be some sort of expiration date on unused accounts. If an account is inactive after two years, then the account and all the data should be purged.

Oh, and the video that auto-played once I got logged in and gave the app permissions to use my camera and microphone (otherwise it wouldn’t allow you to do anything in the app). What was the video? A two second clip that seemed to have been pressed by accident.