A Digital Life after Physical Death: Managing Online Assets in the Modern Era
At first glance, the Facebook page of a former classmate of mine looks normal enough. There are some cover photos, a few profile pics and even a few tagging’s in the posts of others. However, as I am more familiar with the person, I know that there is one thing a little bit off about all this.
She has been dead since 2013 and her Facebook profile is still in existence.
This is but one example of an interesting issue now rising to prominence in our modern era. When we die, what becomes of our online presence? Where do our digital assets go?
On the site that Zuckerberg built, two options are in place for those concerned enough or families of the deceased. You can ask to convert an account into a memorial and have a fancy “Remembering” added beside the name of the dearly departed or, if you’re still alive, you can set up a legacy contact that will have the power to permanently delete your account if you pass away. It is company policy to never give out login info otherwise, even to a grieving family.
Other websites are beginning to realize the importance of this issue as well. On Twitter, an authorized member of a dead individual’s estate can contact the site to have their account deactivated. Provided you send them a copy of your id, the death certificate and info about the deceased that is. One can’t make it so easy, lord knows those reams of data are valuable!
But what if you don’t want your presence scrubbed from the World Wide Web? What if, like a non-insane Eric Harris, you want your digital footprint to live on until the end of time? Well, there are options for that too. If you want more messages to go out on standard social media like Twitter and Facebook long after you’ve turned to dust, there’s DeadSocial. A website where users can set up an unlimited number of posts on their social media accounts for up to 999 years into the future. Oh, how I would delight in wishing my great grandnephews a happy birthday.
On a more advanced level, there’s Etr9. This site uses a sophisticated algorithm to learn your personality so that when you pass away, it will continue to automatically post about topics that you discussed heavily in your life. Did you hate Taylor Swift and have a strong liking of gourmet cheese? If you use their service, people will still see you talk about both long after you’re gone.
Bottom line is this dear reader, in this day and age; we must be prepared for digital life after physical death. I don’t know when I will pass away (God willing it won’t be until long after my nemesis.), but I am certain that I will be using either one of the services I mentioned to prolong my online presence. Unlike past generations who lived and then vanished into obscurity after death, I intend to be present until the end of time. Ozymandias I will not become anytime soon.