As far as online services go, this one is a killer: the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine – http://suicidemachine.org – allows its users to hang by the noose their online personalities on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace.
For some of us who actually work our New Year resolutions out, the web service could be a resort, even if the last. Since its launch – until the time of writing this article – Suicide Machine claims to have unfriended more than 52,000 people from Facebook and ‘untweeted’ over 1,75,000 from Twitter.
And, it dramatically proclaims that a lot of them have “now returned to their real lives” and “feel like real birds.” A project of Moddr — a media lab situated in the Netherlands — Web 2.0 Suicide Machine is mainly the work of a team of three - Danja Vasiliev (server maintenance), Walter Langelaar (production organiser) and Gordan Savicic (suicide software developer). “We are experimentalists and interventionists on everyday technologies. Our mission is to display a critical perspective on contemporary media through our artistic practice,” explains Gordan, in an email interview.
The web service has gained a lot of momentum over the past few weeks, after its presence went viral through the very social networks it targets. On January 1, Facebook blocked the IP address of the site’s server to prevent it from “executing” its members. The team is, of course, working out a way to circumvent the IP blocking.
The website also features a hilarious promotional video – hosted via vimeo.com – of a man declaring just how relieved he was to get his real life back. And quite cheekily, the service lists the very social networks it targets as its partners.
So how does it work? After you have entered your login details for the services you wanna be deleted from, the machine starts a graphical session which is being displayed in the user’s browser within a flash window. All actions are automatised, so it first logs into your account, changes your profile picture and password and then starts to erase your friendship connections, groups and wall posts. Basically, you can watch your own 2.0 suicide in real-time. All you need to have is a browser with a standard flash plug-in.
Gordan says Web 2.0 Suicide Machine started initially as a club gimmick and was not intended to become a web service. “The machine started with a club event we’ve been organising where the idea was to collectively delete your social network profiles. Just grab a drink, fill out some forms and do away with your web2.0 alterego. Later on, we developed it further into a complete automatised web service.”
But what was the provocation? “Healthy paranoia,” he replies. “We do have a healthy amount of paranoia to think that everyone should have the right to quit her 2.0-ified life by the help of automatised machines. Facebook and Co. are going to hold all your information 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.”