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Why Does Facebook Want to Suck the Fun Out of Unfriending?

As Facebook roars past the 350 million usermark, it’s become so ubiquitous that literally everybody I know has a profile. And even though I’ve accepted precisely 1,252 of their friend requests over the years–not that I’m counting or anything–here’s the truth: We’re entering a new year, a new decade, and I’m ready to purge.

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As Facebook roars past the 350 million usermark, it’s become so
ubiquitous that literally everybody I know has a profile. And even though I’ve accepted precisely 1,252 of their friend requests over the years–not that I’m counting or anything–here’s the truth: We’re entering a new year, a new decade, and I’m ready to purge.

So imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Seppukoo, a site that helps you deactivate your Facebook profile, then creates a tongue-in-cheek memorial page and sends it to all of your Facebook friends. “You are more than your virtual identity,” the homepage professes. “Pass away and leave your ID behind.”

Too bad Facebook didn’t get the joke. On Dec. 16, its lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Les Liens Invisibles, the makers of Seppukoo, alleging that they were using the service to send spam and access other accounts without permission. In response, Les Liens posted a statement on Seppukoo, vehemently denying any “phishing or malicious use of personal data” and inviting Facebook’s developers to meet with them in person. (Asked to explain its decision, Facebook sent the
following statement: “While we encourage creativity from developers and
companies using Facebook Platform, we must also ensure that applications meet
users’ expectations, including privacy around who they do and do not want to
communicate with.”

This isn’t the first time Facebook has killed a service that made light of unfriending. In January, it whined about Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice,” which had users trade 10 Facebook friends for a free Whopper. Even though the app had amassed more than 80,000 users and gotten tons of press coverage, Facebook tried to impose restrictions, and Burger King eventually took it down.

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Honestly, I don’t get it. As I discussed while lampooning Florida for banning judges from friending lawyers on Facebook, modern-day “friending” does not connote actual friendship: We’ve all accepted requests from frenemies, enemies, acquaintances, and people who probably contacted us completely
by mistake. Given that even teens–once the cheerleaders of all things
Web–are attending support groups and making pacts to curb their social-networking “addictions,” what’s the harm in embracing a third-party app that trims the fat, so to speak, from your Facebook profile?

Thankfully, all is not lost. Seppukoo may be dead, but the just-launched Web 2.0 Suicide Machine offers a similar service: Let it login to your Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace
account, and it will change your password, unfriend all your
contacts, and remove every trace of your content–while you watch.
“It’s exactly like they say the last real minute of your life is,” the
site’s intro video explains
, referencing how images of Facebook friends flash across the screen before they disappear…forever.

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Hey, I never said it wasn’t creepy.

UPDATE: The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine has already been banned from LinkedIn. Let’s see how long it lasts on Facebook.

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