How Are Your Zombie Accounts? Understanding Users' Practices and Expectations on Mobile App Account Deletion


Yijing Liu, Yan Jia, Qingyin Tan, and Zheli Liu, Nankai University; Luyi Xing, Indiana University Bloomington


Account deletion is an important way for users to exercise their right to delete. However, little work has been done to evaluate the usability of account deletion in mobile apps. In this paper, we conducted a 647-participants online survey covering two countries along with an additional 20-participants on-site interview to explore users' awareness, practices, and expectations for mobile app account deletion. The studies were based on the account deletion model we proposed, which was summarized from an empirical measurement covering 60 mobile apps. The results reveal that although account deletion is highly demanded, users commonly keep zombie app accounts in practice due to the lack of awareness. Moreover, users' understandings and expectations of account deletion are different from the current design of apps in many aspects. Our findings indicate that current ruleless implementations made consumers feel inconvenienced during the deletion process, especially the hidden entry and complex operation steps, which even blocked a non-negligible number of users exercising account deletion. Finally, we provide some design recommendations for making mobile app account deletion more usable for consumers.

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@inproceedings {281404,
author = {Yijing Liu and Yan Jia and Qingyin Tan and Zheli Liu and Luyi Xing},
title = {How Are Your Zombie Accounts? Understanding Users{\textquoteright} Practices and Expectations on Mobile App Account Deletion},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-31-1},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {863--880},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,