What happens to Digital You when you die?
Each and every day we log into an ever-changing digital world. The more time we spend on social networks, search engines and mobile apps, the more we scatter pieces of ourselves around the web that together form pictures of our real lives, identities, tastes, preferences, habits and opinions. When pieced together, these fragments of information form a digital version of who you are, a digital you.
It’s a concept I’m sure many of you haven’t really thought about yet (well, those of you who haven’t seen Black Mirror), but what happens when you die in a world where the virtual parts of you go on existing? This can be quite morbid and daunting to think about but, with some forward planning, it is something you can control (mostly). Here’s a practical list of how you can prepare to remove unwanted digital assets.
What to do with your data before you die:
- As privacy policies dictate, the companies who have your account information are not going to give anyone access to your digital assets without your password. Make a master list that includes all the usernames and passwords to your digital accounts, hide it securely by encrypting the document and tell someone you trust. This way your friends and family can easily access your digital assets, if that is something you want.
- Social media becomes the biggest digital shadow of ourselves that remain after we die. Appoint someone you trust to notify Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to memorialize or delete your account.
- Name a Digital Executor in your will. A fairly new job title, this person has authorization to close your accounts, subscription services and social media pages. They will also delete files from your computer and hard drives as instructed. But they also need your logins to carry this out, so make sure you’re prepared.
- Sign up for Google’s Inactive Account Manager. If your account has been inactive for more than three months, this application will send an email to a specific Gmail address. This ensures that someone you trust can access your Gmail account, photos and other data after you die.
Although it’s almost impossible to guarantee that your personal data will be completely removed from digital applications, taking the above steps should give you some peace of mind of what will happen to digital you when the real you is no longer around.