You can’t log onto your online account if you’re dead, and unless you have your password clearly marked on a sticky note, then nobody else will be able to either. While the Internet is a great distraction to keep us from pondering our mortality, the issue of post-mortem social media forces us to face death by preparing a digital will.
What happens to your online life after your real life has expired? As the Internet becomes more intertwined with every aspect of our lives, this question has become an increasingly messy legal issue that lawyers and governments are scrambling to resolve. While lawmakers have yet to draft a standardized plan to make a social-media will, they are urging that everyone at least have some kind of spelled out plan in place. This way, those left behind (both real and virtual) will be able to follow your instructions and take care of your cyber-business.
Having a social media will ensures that your profiles will receive a proper burial. Although, you need to be aware that when you tread into the territory of an actual legal will, then the information on said will (like your passwords), will become public information. While the embarrassment of having your personal information ousted will not be embarrassing if you are worm food, you may want to be aware of how this scenario will affect those left behind.
When making a social media will, it’s important to remember that every company will have its own procedures and regulations to close an online account upon death. To make things easier, Google has recently rolled out an Inactive Account Manager tool that allows you to determine what happens to your content on all of your Google accounts whenever you “stop using Google”–which is a polite way to say kick the bucket.
Using the Google Inactive Account Manager tool, you will determine how much time will go by before Google checks your vitals. You can set this up using 3 month increments, up to one year. One month before your deadline, Google will message you, giving you a chance to say, “I’m not dead yet. I don’t want to go on the cart.” If you don’t respond, and the deadline passes, then Google will dole out your passwords to a list of trusted contacts that you have set up–which includes your accounts like Drive, Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, and more. Your trusted contacts will be notified via e-mail, and have the ability to download your files, close your accounts, or enact whatever arrangements that you have made with them.
After making your post-mortem plans with Google Inactive Account Manager, along with all the other social media websites that you are on, you will now be free to turn up the volume and tune out any reminders that, in the grand scheme of things, we are nothing but water vapors, here today and gone tomorrow.
If you would like assistance planning your social media will, call PACE Technical Services at 905.763.7896. While we are not lawyers and cannot legally set you up with a real will, we do know our way around the Internet and can help prepare your virtual life for the ultimate shutdown.