The reality is impossible to avoid. As unfortunate as it is, most of us have had someone in our network pass away. Their friends and family rush to share their condolences on their Facebook and Twitter profiles as a digital record of all of those lives they touched. What happens next? We recently saw the power of the digital breadcrumbs we leave for our life when a father pleaded with Facebook to create his deceased son’s look back video, which he released publicly.
This touching example highlighted an important dark side of our social profiles. His father wasn’t able to access his Facebook account to create the video on his own. Why? Because social networks haven’t made it easy for loved ones to take over their accounts. The result? 30 million Facebook accounts that belong to dead people. It is anticipated that in the year 2060 there will be more dead people on Facebook than live ones. With the rise of social media with the boomer generation (70% of 65-74 year olds are on Facebook) it raises a great discussion for debate.
Here are some things to consider as you make your plans.
What do you want to happen to your profiles in your Digital Afterlife?
According to the infographic created by Whoishostingthis only 20% of us have thought about what happens to our profiles after death. The best way to ensure that your family can fulfill your desires is to add your wishes to your will and ensure that your family has all of the passwords necessary to access your accounts and fulfill your wishes upon your death. AssetLock provides a service that allow for easy transfer of important documents, passwords, and instructions to a selected beneficiary.
Do you want your accounts to serve as a memorial? Your family and friends may enjoy having a digital way to share with you. Let’s face it, getting to a physical gravesite may not be possible for all of the people that were special to you. Do you want them to be shut down? It can be a little creepy to see a dead person’s profile in your news feed. If you want to save your friends and family from the painful reminder you may decide to have your accounts deleted.
Think about all of your social profiles when you are making decisions. What will happen to these accounts Instagram, Path, Flickr, Gmail, Yahoo, Tumblr, Blog, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social accounts you maintain? You’ll also want to make sure you update this list at least once a year as you adopt new social channels.
Is your family tech savvy enough to follow your wishes?
This is something to think heavily about. The last thing you want is to stress your family out even more. I couldn’t even imagine asking my parents to deal with my social profiles as there is no way it would be a painless process for them. If you don’t think your family has the ability to easily follow your wishes you may want to appoint a proxy to act on their behalf or to offer as a resource to help them. It will be even better if you can leave exact instructions on what to do, how to do it and someone to contact (preferably a very tech savvy individual) to assist them to ease the burden.
Do you have messages you want your loved ones to receive after you die?
While it’s painful to think about for many of us, there are things we want to say to our friends and family, but somehow we never get around to it. We’ve seen heart-warming stories of terminal patients leaving videos and letters for their family to be opened at specific milestones or dates. Now, there is a digital way to deliver those messages with services like Death Switch. The service allows you to set up triggers and if you don’t respond in a certain period of time it assumes you have died or become incapacitated and triggers the switch to send the messages. You can send emails with attachments that could include your will, important documents, instructions for where your money is stored and how to access it, links to videos you’ve recorded, or even just personal notes. These are emails you certainly want to make sure you respond to. It would be a little awkward if your death messages suddenly started because you ignored the emails asking if you are still alive.
In today’s day and age, we can’t ignore the reality that our digital assets are part of our story. We need to take the necessary steps to protect them and ensure they don’t become an undue burden on our loved ones.
Do you have a plan for what will happen to your digital profiles if you die? Have you updated your will to include instructions? Have you provided your family with the information they will need to fulfill your wishes? Or are you avoiding the inevitable?