By the beginning of the next century, the number of dead people on the popular social media network, Facebook, is expected to outnumber living members – turning it into the world’s largest ‘virtual graveyard’. Can you believe it?
We seem so besotted with social media that our ‘online life’, the trend of people looking to leave farewell messages to their loved ones via various social networks is also becoming more common. It is hardly surprising that more people are thinking about what happens to their social media accounts when they die. Have you?
It’s an interesting thought. A YouGov survey, published in early November 2018, revealed that 26% of people would like the content of their social media accounts to pass to their loved ones once they have died. Additionally, the survey results showed that 67% of respondents wanted their social media accounts taken offline after their death and only 7% wanted them to stay online.
Each social network has different rules regarding what happens to your account when you die. Facebook and Instagram will memorialise a person’s page once the death has been reported or they will remove the account if an immediate family member makes a request. Facebook has also added settings which allow you to plan for what happens to your account after you die. You can set a legacy contact to manage aspects of your page once it’s been memorialised. Twitter will delete any account if there is no activity or logins for six months. Google’s Inactive Account Manager allows you to make plans for what happens to your account after you die. You can choose to grant a loved one access to your information or request that your account is automatically deleted.
Beyond each of the main social media networks, there are other ways to manage your digital assets – enabling you to communicate with your family and friends online after you’ve died. Dead Social’s goodbye and legacy builder tool permits its users to schedule posts after they have passed away. I find that scary. Users are able to choose text or video posts and assign a digital Executor to send the message once they have died. Due to the popularity of the tool, Dead Social is currently updating the service. They are currently not allowing new users to join, but the tool is expected to grow once version two is released.
In our Wills we can add a clause which says whether or not digital assets should be looked after by your Executors and you can even name separate Executors for this purpose.