Memorializing Facebook and other social media

facebook-black-logo-squareHave you thought about what happens to your Facebook, Twitter or any online social media, blog or website account once you die? Morbidly, I have often pondered this question and a recent event got me thinking about it again. You have likely heard of John Berlin, the father that petitioned Facebook to see his deceased son’s “Look Back” Facebook video, and Facebook graciously complied. As a father of five, I can definitely sympathize. However, I also would also want to respect my child’s wishes if they didn’t want anyone to see their “Look Back” video. I didn’t create one, and wouldn’t want anyone to do so upon my death either. But that’s just how I prefer to manage my online presence.

Generally speaking in regards to the free social media accounts, if no one has access to your passwords or can log in to them and make changes, nothing will happen to your online presence. Those accounts will just continue to exist with what you have shared online virtually forever. If you have a website and are paying for the service, once payment stops, your web site will eventually get deleted. Of course, if you have instructions on how to handle your social media and online activity outlined in your Will, then the Executor would follow those instructions. Most people probably do not think about adding instructions to their Will for their social media and online presence. Imagine having to rewrite your Will every time you sign up for a new account online!

We all like simplicity in our lives. What I propose is that the social media companies have a setting that we choose what will happen to our account when we die. For example, if a Facebook account becomes memorialized by a family member or friend when someone dies, their “upon death” settings would then take effect. If someone wants their account deleted after they die, then Facebook deletes it. If they had everything private while alive but want it all public after they die, then Facebook set all posts to “Public”. They could even have their “upon death” settings set to private, friends only or public, etc.

These kinds of settings should be common place on all our social media accounts and online presence. We should have these options available, and not let them be settled by others after we die.