Online Profiles and Data – What Should Happen When We Pass Away?
  • Helen Claydon

Online Profiles and Data – What Should Happen When We Pass Away?

Almost all of us will have an online account somewhere. In fact, the majority of us will have tens, if not hundreds of accounts and so our data is definitely out there. When we die our physical belongings are dealt with, but it seems as though our online profiles and data are a completely different aspect of our lives.

Nearly 25% of people are in favour of having a data death once they pass away. This would mean having all of their email and social media accounts deleted. What might shock is the fact that 92% of people have never had a discussion about what should happen.

Each day most of us have an online presence. Sharing photos, sending emails and logging in to various accounts. However, we should consider what happens to all of these accounts and our data once we pass.

The aim is to have those difficult conversations with loved ones. After all, if you don’t, they might never be able to gain access to your digital accounts. Many social media accounts, when informed of a death, will close or suspend accounts.

Google and Facebook have legacy settings where users can choose a contact who can take care of certain aspects of their account after they have passed away. It is similar to that of the role of an executor. These options are interesting because, when people are creating Wills, they are not even considering their online data. The reality is that people should know about it because being more educated about it would allow them to make the right decisions.

There is another side to this though; if social media accounts are still active after death it can provide relatives with solace. They can view photos, posts and even messages. It can almost provide them with a feeling that they are still present and alive. If the accounts are then removed after the platforms are informed of the death, it can result in the feeling of losing that person all over again.

The reality is that we should consider our digital lives and how they can impact people when we pass away. Not only that, but we might also have information and data that we don't want others to see. This means that taking control of the situation now can help to mitigate the risk of problems when you pass away. Having that all-important discussion is key to making an informed decision. Perhaps your loved ones will want your profiles to stay active so they can reminisce and look back in the same way that they can look at memories of old photographs.

This is a decision that we all have to make or should already be making. A large portion of our lives is now played out online. So, now is the time to make the right decision regarding what should happen when you pass away.


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