When I Die, Delete: How to Plan Your Digital Legacy | Death and die

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OIt used to be that your favorite memories and important documents were kept as physical objects: photo albums, scrapbooks, postcards, contracts and certificates of ownership. This meant that when we died, these things would be relatively accessible to the loved ones we left behind.

In the age of the Internet, much of this information is stored in the cloud. Everything from photos and videos to emails, documents and contracts, and even social media posts are not easily accessible without legacy planning.

Like me, many people also use social media for private journaling of family memories, in hopes that these posts can still be seen in the future. Also, reminders from social media platforms about a deceased person can be painful and upsetting.

Although a morbid thought, taking stock of your digital life and planning for what will happen when you are no longer there to log on is essential to ensuring that your information can be managed easily and responsibly. .

This is an issue that online platforms are increasingly aware of, and many now allow you to give instructions on what should happen in the event of death.

Depending on the platform, keeping and deleting your account is possible, but it requires some thought beforehand, and each platform has a different process.

Apple’s old contacts

In December 2021, Apple introduced Legacy Contacts, allowing you to choose one or more people you trust to access your account after you die. You generate and share an access key with your designated contact.

After you die, your contact will need to request access, provide the key you shared, and upload your death certificate to access your Apple account.

Steps to add a legacy contact to your Apple ID. Photography: Apple

After approval, your former contact will have three years to view photos, messages, notes, files, apps, and other data, and make decisions about what should happen to the information.

Inactive Google Account Manager

You can take proactive steps to protect your Google Account data, whether it’s photos, documents, or even your Google Pay account. Google’s inactive account manager allows you to plan your death by indicating when Google should consider your account inactive. You can set the inactivity waiting period between three and 18 months. After the set time has elapsed, automated messages will be sent to the designated mobile phone numbers and email addresses, notifying them of the inactivity. You can choose up to 10 people to be notified by Google if your account becomes inactive.

You can also choose to share specific data such as Google Calendar, Chrome, Pay and Photos with designated people for three months after the account becomes inactive.

Finally, you can also ask Google to delete your inactive account and all of its content. The deletion takes place three months after the account has become inactive.

Facebook Legacy Contacts and Memorial Accounts

Facebook also lets you add a legacy contact who can manage your account after you die. A former contact can view “only me” private messages, pin a tribute message, edit your profile and cover photo, and request deletion of your account. However, the legacy contact will only be able to perform these activities after the account is memorized.

An example of a memorial Facebook page
An example of a memorial Facebook page. Photography: Facebook

In a memorial account, the word “remember” is placed next to your name, and friends and family can share memories on the page’s memorial timeline.

Facebook memorializes accounts when a family member or close friend notifies them of your death. Finally, you also have the option of having your account permanently deleted upon your death. If you choose this option, when someone notifies Facebook of your death, the account will be permanently deleted.

Twitter

Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t seem to have a way to remember an account, or the ability to provide contact information for a legacy contact. It also does not provide access to the account to anyone, regardless of their relationship to the deceased.

However, an authorized person or a family member of a deceased person may contactTwitter have the account deactivated, after providing additional information about the deceased, a copy of their ID and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate.

instagram

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has similar remembering and deleting features as Facebook. But it does not offer the option to add a legacy contact. Instead, anyone can request that an account be memorialized by providing proof of death. Only verified immediate family members or legal representatives of the deceased can request deletion of accounts.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn also does not currently provide a way to provide legacy contact details. It only offers the functionality of memorializing or closing a deceased member’s account.

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Family members or authorized persons can only make requests to commemorate or close an account. However, other LinkedIn members can report a deceased person, and upon verification, the account is hidden from public view. Like Twitter, it also does not disclose usernames or passwords to anyone, including family members.

Microsoft

Nowadays, Microsoft seems to have taken a very passive approach in dealing with deceased user accounts. It offers no way to designate a relative to access the account, and the account is inevitably closed after two years of inactivity.

Departure instructions

Last but not least, you can leave the details of all your digital assets – accounts, usernames and passwords – with a trusted friend or family member who can help you end your relationship. This can be especially useful for platforms where naming a legacy contact is not possible.

Planning for digital inheritance can be difficult, but it will make life a little easier for your loved ones. After all, you don’t want your online information lost or misused when you’re gone.

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