Digital Will: Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers and iTunes (Guest)

A guest post by: Julio McPartland

digital will testament

CC-BY-NC-ND, nebojsa mladjenovic

As more and more of our identities are being kept in digital forms, it is important to take into account what will happen to all of it when we pass away. Valuable digital items, like your iTunes library or your Facebook account or Twitter, will fall into a gray area when death occurs and as these things become more valuable—and more of our lives move into the digital realm—it is important to know how to deal with such things when we move on. The digital will, just like the old fashioned will, deals with your entire digital life. Just like with the aspects of an actual will, which deals with all of your physical assets that you will leave behind, a well thought-out digital will ensures these digital aspects to your life will go to the right people or organizations.

When it comes to taking over a deceased person’s Twitter, the site requires that survivors of the deceased send in an email or fax stating that the account holder has passed on. This is to ensure that the person hasn’t actually had their identity stolen through identity theft, as digital criminals prey on both the living and the dead. One solution for this is to get a service that will monitor your banking accounts; you can follow Lifelock on Twitter and learn more about what they can do to help you to prevent credit fraud. They can also keep up with a person’s credit cards and social networks and catch identity thieves before they strike. Otherwise, a dead person’s Twitter account can be used by identity thieves to deceive people and often times no one will know about it.

Starting with an iTunes library, someone who owns tens of thousands of digital downloaded songs can bequeath them to a relative or friend, just like they would tens of thousands of records in the decades prior. A similar thing can now occur with eBooks and magazines that have been collected by someone—however, unlike someone who was getting a garage full of books, records or movies that they could tangibly have, hold and sell, all of these items will be in digital form. While this will take up a lot less space, it may be tough to sell without impeding on copyright laws. When it comes to including this in a digital will, it should probably be kept within a family or donated to an organization.

The same thing goes for Facebook, or any of the other social networks out there. Telling those close to you what to do with these social network accounts when you die is integral to protecting your identity after death. It also gives surviving friends and family a sense of closure, as they won’t see your photos or updates on their feed or in their friend pages. The less they see of you doesn’t mean they will forget you, but it will help them to move on from the grief of your death.

Then again, a digital will could also say to leave a Facebook page open or a Twitter account active, giving someone a certain sense of life after death. This may be good in some respects for some people, though it may be a bit unsettling to others who haven’t dealt with your death in the same way. However a digital will treats these decisions should be followed as per the wishes of the person who wrote them. Just take into account all the implications your digital life can have on others around you after you are gone, as this part of life is slowly becoming more and more important.

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Josef Ohlsson Collentine

A transparent and kind American/Swede who likes cultural patterns and Social Media. A creative early-adopter who sports, discusses and explores. More about me
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