On Twitter, the phrase “log out” is frequently used as a mocking command, aimed at someone who is constantly online and needs to put down their phone and go for a walk. According to this logic, logging out is not a task to be completed on one’s device, but rather a mental state to be inhabited and idealized.
This sentiment, however, contains a profound irony: a person who manages to mentally log out, whether for an hour or a week, may still technically be logged in. Users frequently keep browser tabs and apps open, such as devices that collect data in the background. Most people are completely unaware of this fact. We’re accustomed to staying logged in so that we can.
As a result, the user interface of consumer websites and apps has shifted. Logging in was once as important as logging out, but according to freelance UI designer Jesse Showalter, access to content is now more important than ever, even if it means constantly sharing our data. Opting out, on the other hand, provides little benefit to either businesses or consumers.
The logout button no longer appears to function. I only log out of certain accounts on purpose when I want to limit my use of a website or app (usually Twitter or Amazon). Even so, the process is not always simple. I was using a friend’s laptop to send some emails a few months ago when I discovered that I couldn’t log out of my Gmail account.
This would also unsubscribe my friend. This is a desktop-specific annoyance that Google has nurtured for many years. Instead, I had to use a separate device like a cell phone to revoke account access.
The logout button doesn’t seem to work anymore
This unexpected logout hurdle only confirmed my conspiratorial suspicion: websites and apps have a profitable incentive to keep users logged in, which is reflected in the design of the mobile and desktop interfaces. The logout button has therefore been relegated to the depths of the settings menu, as with Discord and YouTube, or even removed as a function entirely, as with the mobile apps for Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.