In the last of my looking back series – celebrating 10 years of this blog – I’m looking at post I wrote back in 2009 about what happens to your digital presence when you die. A cheerful thought.
The Legacy Locker I mentioned in my original post no longer exists. So what has changed? (Don’t panic: there are other services available. )
Two other big changes; legal firms recommend you appoint a digital executor and platforms have developed their own polices and processes in the event of a user’s death.
For example, facebook have acknowledged the reality of our digital forevers with the option to memorialise accounts, and even give you the option of appointing a legacy contact. Twitter will work with families, or next of kin, to deactivate the account.
Since my blog post two friends have died, and in both cases Facebook was used to organise memorial meetings. Both their accounts are still live and we, as friends continue to share memories on their pages. Given that both these friends have friends and colleagues from around the world it’s a wonderful way for us to keep some memory alive.
What happens to your web presence when you die? Does it hang around forever? With much of our personal administration done online how do our families handle those accounts? And now that we have “virtual” friends and relationships online, does a withering avatar inform them of our demise?
There’s a new service to be launched next month, called Legacy Locker, which provides storage of all your online profiles, logins and passwords and will release them to a family member in the vent of your death (and on provision of a death certificate and other documentation).
It will certainly easier to go through this process once, rather than multiple times with each social networking/blogging/email/service website.
They’re not the only ones to contemplate this issue, a Dutch networking site Mediamatic has been contemplating it more from a philosophical point of view. They’ve created an exhibition “Ik R.I.P” (Ik = I in Dutch), which is billed as “an exhibition about death, internet and self-representation”. There’s a matching website where you can leave a sort of digital will, linked to one of several online profiles. The focus here is more on the social aspect of what happens after your death, whereas Legacy Locker looks at the very practical problem of your personal information and services online.
Given how much of my life is now online, it makes sense to plan for aspects of my death online.