These last days have had the taste of disappointment with a service that I have faithfully used for so long. Yes, I found out that my Skype account was suspended. Without email, without justification. I think my last activities on Skype were to call my mother who lives in France. Speak about suspicious activities, I guess the references to the cannoli in our calls must have irritated someone.
Skype has been, in a critical moment of my life 10 years ago, the lifeline that allowed me to be in touch with my family and get support from them during challenging times, it’s been, for ages, my go-to place whenever I need to talk with my relatives who all live abroad. So, eager to get my account unlocked, and armed by my good faith & optimism, I went on to the account verification form. I filled what I could, among absolutely stupid questions such as « when did you sign up for skype (mm/yy) ».
Account creation dates are NOT important to people. Birthdays are. The day when you got engaged is. The day when your kid was born is.
Let’s take a step back. Skype thinks that the sign-up date is an important piece of information for them, but obviously, these people don’t live in the real world. When is the last time you opened your « account creation » spreadsheet and inputted carefully the day, month and hour when you created a given user account? Account creation dates are NOT important to people. Birthdays are. The day when you got engaged is. The day when your kid was born is. Not the day when you created your Facebook or Skype account. Skype, or Microsoft, should think well about it. I’m sure that this will be turned out by good-thinking people who think that they have a mission to save their users from idiocy.
But think again, is it really about idiocy? A vast majority of users in the tech community are early adopters. Folks like me and others generally sign up to new services when they’re in beta, if not in alpha. Some of us have had accounts for years. My Yahoo mail address, although I haven’t used it for ages, was created in 1996, and is still active. That’s 20 years ago! At that time, many of the young folks who are entering adult life were either not born yet, or suckling on their mother’s breasts. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since I first set up my Skype account, what we’re being asked is a set of irrelevant questions such as « what was your card number », how the heck am I supposed to remember my card number from 2012 since I’ve changed at least 2-3 debit cards meanwhile?
Our digital identity is the sum of our online accounts.
While it’s true that we are not entitled to a right to have a Skype account ad vita aeternam, it’s nonetheless true that our online accounts make us who we are online. The many accounts that we have (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, etc…) are part of our digital identity and this digital identity is a pendant of our real identity. Now there are multiple circles in this digital identity and I consider that social media accounts are part of the most inner circle, the one where we share, we interact and we affirm ourselves to the outer digital world. While closing down your account on a social media service is an act of will, being stripped of an account that has been a core part of your digital identity for years (I believe Skype accounts are such a thing) has the same effect as being stripped of a part of your identity. Especially when your Skype account is tied to a username that you have used consistently across social media services for nearly the last two decades.
Now, about my issue with Skype, I’ve filled the form countless times, trying to provide as much information as I have in my possession. All attempts were turned out. I contacted tech support, to be replied in standard emails that they cannot help and I need to use the verification form. I provided proof of payment; I provided contact names that are on my contact list, I did all I could in good faith to prove Skype that I am the rightful owner of this Skype account but yet, there has been no will to help.
Because of these silly recovery procedures, and because of Skype support stubbornness and unwillingness to help users – loyal users such as me and others, who have joined Skype from the very early beginnings – it’s clear that despite the usual security verbiage bullshit, users are considered as expendable material by Skype, and by extension, by Microsoft. I think I’ve wasted enough time and energy trying to recover this account. My digital identity is precious, but so is my time and once in a time you have to accept defeat, no matter how bitter it is.
So, to my family and friends on Skype, I bid you farewell. It’s been a jolly ride, but now we have to live with the times. We’ll catch up either on Telegram or WhatsApp.
P.S.: It seems I’m not the only one who’s had this unpleasant surprise. My friend Luca Dell’Oca has shared similar experiences 3 years ago.