Facebook cuts off Suicide Machine access

There are cleaner ways to terminate your social-networking accounts than to use this script-based site, which Facebook says it has blocked.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read
Suicide Machine is not painless

If one of your resolutions for this year was to prune your online activity back to a reasonable level, you might have been excited to learn of the new service called the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. The site, which launched in late December, lets you "sign out forever" from the social-networking services Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace.

Until a few days ago, the service also let you kill your Facebook account. However, Facebook got wind of this scheme and shut down access to the site from the Suicide Machine servers, unplugging the unplugger, as it were.

According to a Facebook representative, "Facebook provides the ability for people who no longer want to use the site to either deactivate their account or delete it completely. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine collects log-in credentials and scrapes Facebook pages, which are violations of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We've blocked the site's access to Facebook, as is our policy for sites that violate our SRR. We're currently investigating and considering whether to take further action."

Suicide Machine has been getting a fair bit of attention and press, but it's a curiosity, bordering on a joke. Instead of just deleting your account (a standard feature supported by social services), Suicide Machine instead walks through a targeted account, friend by friend, and deletes your connections one at a time via a script.

Before it does that, though, it changes your profile picture (to a charming pink noose) and your password, so you can't log back on to resurrect yourself, nor remove the final marker and message, nor manage your friends on the chance that the Suicide Machine's script didn't run correctly (I checked several "dead" Facebook accounts and found many with friends still in them).

So your profile will be dead to you, but far from gone for good. A tool to declare "friend bankruptcy" by eliminating your connections without blocking you from ever using your account would be more useful, at least to my mind.

The calculus of the site is also suspect. From the FAQ: "Facebook and Co. are going to hold all your informations and pictures on their servers forever! We still hope that by removing your contact details and friend connections one-by-one, your data is being cached out from their backup servers. This can happen after days, weeks, months, or even years. So merely deactivating the account is just not enough!"

I get the logic, but I'm not convinced the Suicide Machine will actually remove your data more effectively than a site's own tools. And neither the Suicide Machine nor an on-site deletion will erase your data in Google's cache.

My advice: If you want to remove yourself from a social site, use the end-of-account tools on the site itself. It's a less painful way to go.

Message on the Suicide Machine site: Help us kill your accounts. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET