LifeSearch (a life insurance company) have posted the results of a new study that they have done, into how prepared people are in managing their digital assets/social media after death, and found that a large number of users want their data cleared automatically on death, whilst others want to hold onto e.g. e-books/music, and photographs for the benefit of others post death:
Currently, when a person passes away, loved ones face substantial paperwork to deactivate social profiles and mail accounts. Processes differ between sites and providers, but can include having to provide death certificates, sharing copies of ID, filling in forms and giving extensive information about the deceased – and some will only work with immediate family.
The company has provided access to some basic guidance about how to manage digital assets after death which is quite useful. The story has also been covered by Sky News, which adds a bit of extra colour.
I spoke to UCB News about the story earlier:
What happens to our digital data when we die? A survey found 24% of us want it to just disappear, but @drbexl says – as the first generation to have to grapple with this – it’s better we clearly set out what we want in each case. Listen: https://t.co/yUm0YWvYjU / @UCBMedia
— UCB News Team (@UCBNewsTeam) July 12, 2019
*apologies to the UCB team and any listeners for the bings – my work email was up in webmail, and I thought that the noise of me closing it would be worse than what I hoped was just one email bing!
We looked at the story from a professional angle, how do we encourage people to think about how to use social/digital media well, and that includes thinking about what happens to them when we die (whether that be expected or not), and I mentioned that I’d been thinking about my funeral, and have started thinking about my digital assets, though I have some work to do in that area (I’m thinking a digital file that I give access to specific people for).
Further guides LifeSearch have offered are:
- Digital Death: What Can I do? (managing social media profiles)
- Digital Death: Have a Smartphone Policy (delete to factory settings)
- Digital Death: Keeping Your Nuclear Codes Safe (storing passwords)
- My Digital Death Wish (think now about what you might want done)
- The Suicide and the Digital Samaritan (memorialising an account on Facebook – a story)
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.