Monday, September 16, 2013

Should You Write a Social Media Will?


Social media is a part of daily life, so what happens to the online content that you created once you die? If you are active online, and most people today are, you should consider creating a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled by writing a social media will. Will your accounts stay active? Will they be blocked or deleted? Who owns the info stored on these sites? Where the data that your web hosts or Apple™ is puts “in the cloud”? The U.S. government recommends that you write a Social Media Will – a document which specifies what should be done with your online identities and digital assets after you depart this life. 

Who takes care of social media after you die?  

You should appoint someone you trust as an online “digital” executor.

This person will be responsible for the closure of your email addresses, social media profiles, and blogs after you are deceased.

Facebook has already thought of a solution: after a user dies, his or her account can be memorialized and will remain visible only to the person’s friends who can then use it to post messages in remembrance.

You can also prepare farewell messages for your Facebook friends with an app called If I Die. This company will send these goodbyes for you after your death has been confirmed by your friends.

Twitter has a similar policy and kindly removes deceased users from the ‘Who to follow’ section.

Take these steps to help you write a social media will

  • Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial donations profile where other users can still see your profile but can’t post anything new.
  • Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  • Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.
  • Check to see if the social media platforms have account management features to let you proactively manage what happens to your accounts after you die. For example, Google's Inactive Account Manager allows you to manage how you want your online content to be saved or deleted. This feature also lets you give permission for your family or close friends to access the content you saved on Google websites after you die.

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