With the Rapture allegedly scheduled for this afternoon, it is important to consider what will happen to our digital presences when we die. Many of us spend hours a day building connections and uploading content, but where will it all go? Will it just be left to gather dust online?
Facebook will “Memorialize” a user’s profile, if requested. This is a feature they decided to add when an employee was killed back in the early days of Facebook.
When someone leaves us, they don’t leave our memories or our social network. To reflect that reality, we created the idea of “memorialized” profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who’ve passed.
That person’s profile will become locked, so that no one can attempt to log into it. Existing friends will be able to post on the person’s wall to pay their respects, but no one will be allowed to request that person as a friend moving forward. The person will also be removed from all “suggestion” features, so that no one ever sees “You haven’t interacted with Emily in awhile, poke her!” You can imagine how upsetting this might be for someone, if they were very close to Emily when she was alive.
Family or friends can request that a profile be memorialized through a simple form here. The form asks for “Proof of Death” via a link to either an obituary or news article.
Twitter has a similar policy of removing users from its “suggested users” feature once it learns of their death. You can notify Twitter about a death here.
It’s still unclear what exactly happens to the account of a dead person, but some reports claim that family members can request that the accounts be deleted, or left online. Twitter does say that
we cannot allow access to the account or disclose other non-public information regarding the account.
By default, Google will leave all of a deceased user’s content online, unless someone accesses the account and takes it down. To request access to deceased user’s account, follow the policy here.
Keep in mind that Google accounts cover dozens of services like Gmail, YouTube, Google Calendar, Goggle Docs, Google Reader, Blogger, Feedburner, Google Analytics, Google Voice and more. This make it a very centralized place for cleaning up a loved one’s online presence after their passing.
LinkedIn also has a death notification process here.
What would you want your loved ones to do with your social media profiles after your death?
Certainly, being removed from “suggestion” features would save people a lot of heartache in the future. But what about all of your status updates and uploaded content? Would you want your digital footprints erased from the sands of time, or have them live on forever?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.