Humans have been contemplating the details of death from the very beginning. Civilizations have formed beliefs on not only what happens to the body and the soul after we die but also on what should happen to the things we leave behind–family, legacy, possessions and our physical bodies themselves. Today, we have a new concern to add to this list that our predecessors did not–what happens to our online lives after we die?
Jeff Quipp, founder of Search Engine People, says that “many people will prepare a will to manage what happens to their possessions after their death [but] most have likely not considered what happens to their digital information.”
According to Facebook, there are over 30 million Facebook accounts that belong to people who are deceased. 3 Facebook users die every second. And around the year 2060, there will be more accounts on Facebook that belong to the deceased than their will be the living.
The scary thing is, Facebook is just one of hundreds of online footprints most of us have. Consider the email accounts, shopping accounts, YouTube videos, tweets, blog posts, Instagram pictures, and resumes on LinkedIn. While not everyone wants their digital existence to live on after they die, what we want done with all of these accounts needs to be something we consider and plan for.
There are services our there that can track logins and passwords and even instructions that will guide loved ones in handling the deceased person’s online presence such as Asset Lock. One somewhat creepy step further, LifeNaut is a company that gives people the ability to create a “DNA” profile to be used in the process for future cloning.
No matter what we each individually believe happens after we die, one thing is certain, we will have digital footprints that live beyond our physical selves and we should consider the meaning of this.
Jeremy Toeman, Founder of LegacyLocker (now PasswordBox), explains how inheritance is changing for all of us:
“Today, you get a shoebox full of pictures; tomorrow you will get a Flickr Account. Today, you get a diary; tomorrow you will get a blog.”
Ready to get planning? Here’s one place to start: The Digital Beyond is a site that maintains a list of online services to help you plan for your digital afterlife.
Need to close someone’s account after death? Start with these links: Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Gmail, Micosoft, Flickr/Yahoo, WordPress, Instagram, Apple.
Photo Cred: MTSCreates
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