What Will Happen To Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?
We never want to talk about death or dying but we know it could happen at any moment, and today we need to plan more than just who will get our eclectic collection of birdhouses, and treasured lasagna recipes when we are gone. While I have always joked that I will keep tweeting from heaven when I am gone, this is a serious matter. Many of us have known someone who passed away and their Facebook became a memorial page, or after someone dies, Facebook keeps wanting you to invite the deceased to LIKE your business page or LinkedIn continues to suggest them as a connection to those in their network.
My youngest daughter (the Schrecklet, who is now 19) and I had made a pact years ago about knowing how to get into each others’ social media accounts should anything tragic happen to either one of us. She knows my password formula and she has told me hers, although I can never remember it. We also took it one step further and wrote our passwords to each account on an index card and placed it in an envelope—I told her she could seal hers and sign her name across the back so she would be assured that I wouldn’t use it for evil should I snap one day and turn all Mommy-Dearest on her. That was almost five years ago, and while we still know each other’s passwords, our social channels have gotten more complex and I have now given it a lot more thought, even thinking of my other family members who use social media even occasionally.
Social media is an integral part of many of our lives and we have information on multiple channels—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Google Plus, WordPress, About.me, Rebel Mouse, MySpace, and the list goes on and on. IF something were to happen to you or a loved one, your personal information could be exposed to identity thieves or just creepy spammers and people that start leaving random or hurtful messages on an abandoned profile. You can decide how long you want a person’s profiles to remain open to allow friends to post thoughts and comments, but there will come a time when you might want to shut them down or memorialize the account. Facebook allows loved ones to request a profile be MEMORIALIZED, however, they still need information such as the email address used to login to the account, link to the profile page and proof of death. So, as you plan for your physical assets, take some time to make a social media plan, or as many are calling it today, a social media or digital will. We found a few templates that you can use if you are a do-it-yourselfer. Here is one from RocketLawyer.com.
Here are a few things to do while you are still alive and tweeting:
Make a list of all of your social media accounts.
You may need to Google your name and dig a bit to find them all, if you are like me and sign up for lots of services. Encourage your entire family to do the same. Include those old accounts that you may have already abandoned.
Recover passwords that you may have forgotten.
This is somewhat of a pain, but it will be worth it to get your digital afterlife in order now! Get these passwords and shut down accounts you are not using. This is a good opportunity to do a bit of clean up.
Create a central password document.
Write your passwords to each account you are keeping open and be sure to update this if you change them along the way. Whether this is kept in a secured folder on your computer, or printed and kept in a lockbox, just be sure you have directions on where to find this and how to gain access should you not be here to tell someone where to look.
Our family has always kept a file with sealed envelopes containing our passwords. And if you or your kids are really concerned about someone in your home getting into it, sign your name across the envelope so you can see if it has been jeopardized, or better yet, place them all in a lockbox or safety deposit box. It may seem silly now, but these are important issues when you are gone.
If you have a blog, decide what you want to do with your content.
If you leave the blog, perhaps you have someone who will take over or you may want to turn off the ability to comment to prevent spammers from running wild. Some say they have created a “Last Post” that they want loaded after they are gone. Just give thought to how you want to say goodbye to the fans and followers of your blog.
Set up an INACTIVE ACCOUNT PLAN with Google.
This covers your Gmail, Blogger accounts, YouTube, Google+ and more. If your account is inactive for 3 months (or a time period that you determine), a designated person will be notified with information on how they can access your content. You can also set it to simply DELETE all of your accounts if you are abducted by aliens and your accounts become inactive!
Let your family members know about this plan.
Just like becoming an organ and tissue donor, just because you want something done, doesn't mean it will happen this way if you haven't talked to your loved ones about how to carry out these wishes. If you have a written will or advanced directives, be sure to add in a “social media” clause to take all of this into consideration.
Julie Myhre wrote a great post on The Next Web, “How to Delete and Protect the Digital Identities of the Deceased.” There is great information with more information to specifically contact each of the big social media sites should someone in your family pass away.
The bottom line is, we have created digital footprints all over the place and when we are gone, we want to make sure we leave things as tidy and manageable as possible for our loved ones.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you done anything to plan what you want done with your social channels after you are gone, and tweeting in heaven? We’d love for you to share your thoughts with us.
If you need help managing all of this while you are ALIVE, we can certainly help you with that as well. Contact us today.