Today’s technology presents new challenges when deciding how to handle our Internet fingerprint when considering our last requests in end-of-life planning. Most of us are connected through many different digital and social media channels, so having a strategy on how to “disconnect” in the event of our death becomes a very real consideration that must be discussed.
Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with an aggressive case of breast cancer which took her life in a matter of months. She was very active on social media and used many of the online tools to schedule events, post pictures and videos, and stay connected with her social media family. In contrast, her husband was not very Internet savvy, did not own a computer nor a Smartphone to engage in many of the social medial tools his wife once used and enjoyed.
At her death, he attempted to login to her accounts or change security credentials in order for him to take over her social media accounts. Unfortunately, the discussion never took place about where passwords were stored, written down or how to access her online identities. While her husband did not intentionally break Internet etiquette, he used her account under her name and attempted to interact with friends and family online. It was quite traumatic at times to see your deceased friend, comment on a post, like your status update, or even post a new update to a social media account.
Facebook is the first social media channel to address this issue by developing what it is calling a “legacy contact.” This new Facebook feature will allow your “legacy contact” to manage certain parts of your account in the event of your death. (Read full article at: Facebook Heir? Time to Choose Who Manages Your Account When You Die)
Facebook’s new feature allows the legacy contact to:
Facebook legacy contacts will be able to manage accounts in a way that can turn the deceased person’s Facebook page into a kind of digital gravestone. Legacy contacts can write a post to display at the top of their friend’s memorialized profile page, change the friend’s profile picture, and even respond to new friend requests on behalf of the deceased.
If they’re granted prior permission, legacy contacts can also download an archive of posts and photos from the deceased, but not the contents of his or her private messages.
All of this is optional. If you do nothing, when Facebook finds out you’ve passed, it will simply freeze your account and leave posts and pictures at the privacy settings you determined, a process it calls memorialization. Facebook says it has done this to hundreds of thousands of accounts to date. Learn how to create your legacy contact
Being a legacy contact is different from simply logging into the account of the deceased, and there are important things legacy contacts can’t alter. They can’t edit what the deceased has already posted, or what his or her friends post on the page. If you chose to post a photo while you are living that looks embarrassing when you are gone, your legacy contact can’t do anything about it. A legacy contact also can’t decide to delete a whole account.
End-of-life planning is overwhelming in itself. Adding social media and Internet personalities to the list of items to address can be challenging as well. Making these difficult decisions is a necessary part of proper end-of-life planning, and need to be addressed. Facebook is the first social media channel to address your “digital gravestone,” and I am sure others will follow. Deciding these issues in advance is always easier for you and your family. I encourage you to have the conversation, create a plan of action, and develop your online legacy.