Before deleting a social account

The recent changes in Instagram almost made me delete my account.  I probably would have if it wasn’t for a lesson I learned with FourSquare a few weeks ago.  Deleting and erasing a social networking account is usually a fairly permanent decision.  All your history, links, scores and whatever are gone.  That can be a good thing.  Or not.

I was an early adopter of NetFlix and watched/rated quite a few movies (seriously like hundreds).  The system was really good at finding new movies to recommend.  When I cut back my expenses, I deleted my NetFlix account.  Fast forward a bunch of years to when I had children.  Now Netflix was great because I could stream shows on my phone for the kids in a restaurant so they don’t bug other patrons.  When I signed up for NetFlix the second time, all the ratings from the first time were still there.  Now I’m getting recommendations for movies like Dora the Destroyer.

FourSquare was a nifty little service that turned location check-ins into a game.  I did this for a while and amassed a large number of badges.  Then I considered what I was getting out of FourSquare.  All this data was pushed in but I didn’t get much out of it.  Naturally, I said “Badges, we don’t need to stinkin’ badges.”  I delete my FourSquare account.  A few weeks ago during the response to Hurricane Sandy, I was dropped into a location reporting discussion.  I hopped on a few social location check-in services including FourSquare.  FourSquare hooked me again.  Now I’m missing all the old badges and connections I had on FourSquare.

Instagram changed their terms of service.  A huge shockwave spread across social networks.  But instead of deleting my Instagram account as a knee jerk reaction, I stopped.  Would I ever come back to Instagram?  What if they adjusted their terms of service again?  What is the impact now that Facebook owns them?  Could someone take my screen name and pretend to be me?

I decided to keep my Instagram account but in an unused state.  After using an app to download all my images, I’ve deleted all my photos off the account except one or two.  For security reasons, I’ll “park” the account with an obscure password kept in my password vault.

Where to put all the images? I was debating between G+ and Flickr.  I opted to go with Flickr primarily because it seemed less tied into other social accounts.  It also had tools to allow bulk management of the images.  The advantage to G+ would be managing the images on my phone without another app installed.  We’ll see how it goes.