The Legacy of Social Media: Your Last Will and Testament

A recent article from the BBC gave me a bit of a start this morning:

Facebook has added a new setting that gives users the option of having their account permanently deleted when they die.

Or, if they wish, they can choose to appoint a friend or family member to take control of some aspects of the account after their death.

At first, I laughed, as I read these two paragraphs with the thought that people, once dead, could have the option of deleting their account. Mind you, it would be interesting if the dead were still able to communicate through social media in some weird Ouija board adaptation.

2014-01-27-510_Ghost-DadBut after re-reading the opening and realizing that the BBC hadn’t written up the deceased to participate in their own Facebook accounts, the article did give me pause to ponder: how will someone access all my social media accounts when I die?

Not that I have any intention of dying in the next little while, but quick tally puts me at six active social media accounts (Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress).  Then there is the slew of accounts for apps that I’ve signed up for over the years (including MapMyRun, Nike Running, LoseIt, Groupon, and others which I can’t remember anymore because they didn’t suit me for one reason or another). I’m sure I must have over twenty accounts of one type or another. So what does happen to them when I die.

Facebook’s solution has been to build options into user account settings, as noted above. I would propose something more practical, in case we forget to check social media settings because we’ve had the various accounts for so long. I think we need to think about adding a page to our last will and testament of all our ids and passwords, plus some direction of what we’d like relative to our active social media sites, so that an executor can carry out our wishes relative to the Internet of Things (I am widening the scope of the Internet of Things to include the soft side of the Internet, not just the hard technology of smart devices that link to the Internet).

That way, with an addendum to our last will and testament, the Internet won’t be cluttered with the miasma of our after-life social media and app accounts. I mean really, ten years after the fact, maybe even five years after the fact of someone’s passing, is keeping someone’s Facebook profile intact perhaps akin to keeping an urn of the deceased ashes on the mantlepiece? This comment perhaps bears more on a conversation about grieving but some clear directions, accompanied by passwords, can help avert this.

Just a thought. And this puts me to mind that I need to draw my will up.


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