MAY 2022 IN

No Longer Found Here

“I can no longer be found here” has become one of the common messages found in online bios.

It is a way for users to counter the inevitable sprawl of the internet. Services that served a purpose briefly or initially looked promising eventually have to be cut loose, but those who want to be found have made a practice of pointing readers to other services where they are still maintaining a presence.

It is like a forwarding address, but in cyberspace.

This practice is nothing new. We have been seeing it for years in business accounts online, where a business that thought it would be a good idea to have a separate page for each product category or store location would likely soon decide it would save everyone some trouble if they would scale back, often to a single page.

Furniture seller IKEA, for example, found it was easier to announce emergency store closings from one account for the whole United States than to have a separate account for each store. Messages of store closings for ice storms, floods, and extended power outages are uncommon enough that it doesn’t quite make sense to route them separately by store.

Now, though, it is individuals who are acknowledging the difficulty of maintaining a presence online. They are making it easier on themselves by bowing out of some services and directing friends to another. It is the bio where this message tends to go. It is especially the high-maintenance service like Facebook and Twitter that are being left behind as people seek an easier way to maintain a presence online.

Sometimes you might keep an otherwise abandoned account only to show this redirection message, to tell your friends where you went. But sometimes there are other reasons to keep an account. You might want to hedge in case a service into something useful again a few years down the road. Or the security risks of deleting an account might be higher, if you worry that one of the many identity theft operations online could create an account and pretend to be you. It is a little harder to fake your identity if you are still hlding on to your actual account. Whatever the reason, as long as the account is there, it takes only a minute to add a message that explains that you went away on purpose.

As online services pop up quickly and often die slowly, the no-longer-here message will be a regular part of online life for a long time to come.

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