XangaMy friend Drew Olanoff got me thinking with a recent Tweet about Photobucket. I replied to him with something snarky and then put “note to self: find and delete old PB account.” I shuddered when I thought about the pictures languishing there. Thankfully, y’all will never find it. I used an email address and username from years before I started working in social media, and have never used those since for anything. Whew! But still… now that I remember they’re there, I really don’t want them there.

Social sites come and social sites go. There are a few that will dig in for the long haul such as Facebook and Twitter. We once thought that about MySpace. Oh and Xanga. Remember that place? I’m willing to bet your old profile is still there. And the dumb photos you’d rather no one see these days. Let’s not forget the status messages about your ex – the one you’re hoping your current love never sees.

You’ve forgotten about those accounts, haven’t you? I did and I KNOW better. As more and more of these types of web spaces open up on a daily basis, it’s something we need to think about. How often have you signed up for a hot new site, filled in a profile complete with pictures and information and then quickly moved on to the next shiny new toy? That stuff doesn’t get deleted except in the rare case the site actually closes. Go ahead – I’ll wait while you go confirm that your old MySpace and Xanga pages are still there.

When the announcement came a little while ago about the “new” new MySpace, I went into full panic mode. I knew everyone would go log in or create new profiles to check it out. I remembered what my profile looked like and nearly threw up. It was full of blinky stuff, lovey-dovey quotes, messages to my ex and pictures of the two of us. I don’t want to remember that stuff let alone have to have anyone see it. It took me about ten minutes to get in – I had no clue which old password and email I had used. Finally – I was able to delete most of it and clean it up. That process took a while, admittedly, but was worth it.

So what should we do? It’s simple. We’re all still going to join new sites and create profiles. I recommend keeping them very basic at first unless you become a heavy user. That way if you never log in again you have nothing to worry about in the future. Additionally, let’s say a Facebook killer DOES come along one day and you decide you’re going to make “the switch.” Take the time to clean up anything on the old site you wouldn’t want someone to see in five years. Download your data/photos/etc on sites that allow it. Delete anything that could somehow incriminate or embarrass you later in life.

It may seem like a pain to have to do these things, but how will you feel when you run for President one day and some lame reporter digs up your long-forgotten drunken toga party pics on MySpace?