Digital Virtual Immortality, or Maybe Not

There is a very nice “other Tim Berry” somewhere on the Web — he and I communicate by email so I know only his email address — who graciously gave me last month for free. Except WordPress wouldn’t let him. I asked. He wasn’t using it. So he deleted it. Now neither one of us can use it. In fact, nobody can use it. Ever.

Oh the loss. Both of us locked out. And all those other Tim Berrys, also locked out (there are a lot of Tim Berrys, several of us on the Web, one who is also an MD and operates in entrepreneurship. One’s a state official in Indiana, one was the producer of Cheers). None of us will ever have

I asked why. WordPress says it never deletes a URL. This is from the email they sent me:

Unfortunately once a blog is deleted we can’t recover it or reuse it.

And this too, by the way, apparently just so my namesake and I both feel worse:

If the blog hadn’t been deleted, you could have transferred it.

So I think there’s an irony here, like how can anything as virtual as the Web be so permanent? The great god of backup, I suppose.

Meanwhile, also today, here’s an interesting quote about how hard it is to remove yourself from Facebook:

“It’s like the Hotel California,” said Nipon Das, 34, a director at a biotechnology consulting firm in Manhattan, who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account this fall. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

That’s from today’s New York Times, a column by Maria Aspan called How Sticky Is Membership on Facebook? Just Try Breaking Free.

It turns out that Facebook wants to keep your data just in case you change your mind and decide to rejoin.

The technological hurdles set by Facebook have a business rationale: they allow ex-Facebookers who choose to return the ability to resurrect their accounts effortlessly. According to an e-mail message from Amy Sezak, a spokeswoman for Facebook, “Deactivated accounts mean that a user can reactivate at any time and their information will be available again just as they left it.”

But it also means that disenchanted users cannot disappear from the site without leaving footprints. Facebook’s terms of use state that “you may remove your user content from the site at any time,” but also that “you acknowledge that the company may retain archived copies of your user content.”

You might think that personal stuff like what you put in Facebook ought to be yours, right? Deal with it. It isn’t.

You might also think that one Tim Berry could delete a URL and another Tim Berry could pick it up. Nope. Deal with that too.


  • Luke says:

    I can't figure out how Wordpress can even afford to support and host this service.

    It's probably a loss leader, like blogger. Focus is on blogging newbies. Bring them in and get them started, and then make money off the affiliate partnerships with the ISPs?

    The thing I find annoying about managing a blog this way is that the alexa and pagerank never displays true stats, just those of the root site. So you have no idea how much exposure you're getting in search and elsewhere, aside from the site stats and by using software that tracks that.

    To your point about online tracks – if Facebook existed while I was in high school, and all my thoughts had been posted there, well..yikes, just not good. lol

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