While I’m on the topic of companies trying to force you to create accounts, there’s one thing I’ve struggled against for years as someone who often tries out new services & quickly finds out they are not what was expected: having to email support to delete your account.

The pattern I’ve butted up against countless times is: 1) I want to delete my account; 2) there’s no self-serve delete option; 3) I have to email support about it; 4) if there’s even a way to contact them, they are often sluggish or unresponsive; 5) I quickly lose patience, and remind them of their requirement to delete under GDPR (even though I’m not in EU, this seems to have a stronger effect than citing Canadian federal and provincial regulations); 6) they seem to eventually grumpily delete my data after a lot of back and forth.

I’m a GDPR maximalist, and having undergone certification in the regulation, believe in strict canonical interpretations of the regulation. Which is why my brain always goes back to Article 7, and this line:

The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her consent at any time… It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent.

(If I remember correctly, the latest version of DSA, Digital Services Act, also includes text like this.)

It is so fantastically rare to see any product team implementing GDPR as it is actually written. Most people (outside the EU – even though it applies extraterrorially) seem to either just try to ignore it, or pay it the slimmest lip service in their privacy policies. Almost nobody builds “data protection by default and by design” as the regulation actually requires. Perhaps few product managers have spent the time to even understand what that would mean in terms of actual product implementation. This is too bad, I think, because adhering to the principles enshrined in this regulation would actually help make better products.

At least that’s my point of view as a privacy jerk & a product management jerk. So my advice here is simple, and it will also save support teams time having to deal with jerks like me: if you build a web service, just freakin’ build in an account deletion and a meaningful export option from jump. Do not launch your product without this. It’s not secondary; it’s primary. It won’t increase user churn, it will show people that your product is considered and complete enough that they can trust you. If you have to hide the ability to leave your product, it’s probably a sign that they should.