What Happens To Your Online Life After You Die?

What Happens To Your Online Life After You Die?

Jason Yang
Nov 7, 2011

Old photos used to be preserved in photo albums and passed along the generations, or otherwise hidden and lost in attics and other spooky places. With the advent of the Internet Age, there's hardly such a thing as privacy anymore, and your identity is out there for all the world to see. So what happens when you die? Does your online persona ever really go away? And who's going to clear out all of your "personal" files for you? Be prepared for the worst with a digital will to take care of your online life in the after life.

Facebook's Max Kelly blogs about the idea of "memorializing" someone when they've passed away. The process requires friends and family to notify Facebook (no way this can be used for evil) and when approved it locks down the account "while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance."

TIME Magazine reports that Twitter requires someone to contact Twitter with all of your account information as well as proof of death.

Any pay services you're subscribed set to auto-renew on your credit card will likely keep re-upping until your credit card company finds out they can no longer squeeze you for more money and they cancel the card, in which case the recurring payments will start to fail. Keep a list of all the services you currently pay for so you're not racking up charges beyond the grave (note that someone else you care for might be stuck with the bill too).

All your precious domain names you've either been squatting on or blogging about your cat (or sometimes legitimate businesses) will require some handiwork from someone to properly take over. A representative for Network Solutions informed us that a family member would have to provide proof of death in order to gain access to your account. Businesses will also need to provide proof that someone within the company is allowed to gain access as well.

So make it easier on your loved ones and prepare a digital will to go along with your real will. Entrust all of your account information and passwords to someone you trust (or with a lawyer) so that when the time does come there won't be a huge struggle to get your online life taken care of. There are even online services such as Legacy Locker that secure your account information for you and grants access in case of your untimely (is it ever anything but?) death.

(Images: Under Design, Flickr members Ken_Mayer, Brendan Ashton licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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