A new term Digital After Life has been coined recently to describe what happens to our online presence after we die.  Evolving (and sometimes revolving) social trends are no longer generational.  What used to be generational youth, seeking to be separated from the fashions of their parents, has now grown into a here-to-stay world of digital identity cloning – mirroring our lives online through social media.  What makes the digital revolution so different from previous generational trends is that social media and digital filing are here to stay.  The question some people have already had to face is how to appropriately bring the social media accounts of their deceased loved ones to an end.  Does one simply deactivate their loved one’s Facebook account, as if they were never part of the world?  Should deceased individual’s profiles be left active as memorials?  Furthermore, with online accounts and profiles requiring passwords, how are grief-stricken friends and family supposed to gain access to the affected profile?  Luckily, the need for an appropriate solution to this unfortunate conundrum is currently being led by Google and Facebook.

Google’s Inactive Account Manager – The Digital After Life

Google has created Inactive Account Manager within their existing accounts.  The feature allows the account owner to determine what will happen in the event that the account is inactive for a predetermined amount of time.

For instance, the owner can set the account to automatically send notification emails to unknowing friends and connections who are still contacting the deceased.  The automated response email will be customizable to say whatever the account holder deems fitting.  One of the most appealing features, however, is the option to make specified list of contacts that become “trusted” once the automated responses come into play.  Certain family and/or friends can be added to the custom list, giving them access to the data and information in the deceased’s Google account, which includes email, contacts, browser history, etcetera.  Or, if desired, the account owner can set the account to fully delete itself, without notification or data sharing.  Google’s Inactive Account Manager can be set up here.  Likewise, Facebook has similar plans for inactive user profiles.  Rumors of the upcoming development include being able to set one’s page to self-delete or change forever to a “memorial” mode.

Laying to Rest Digitally (Digital After Life)

The good news in such a grim topic as this is that large online corporations are finally realizing a need for a “digital after-life” solution.  With a little creativity, features like that of Google and Facebook will assist in taking care of the digital areas now being addressed in wills.  Using these features is more of a gift to our survivors than ourselves.  It’s unfortunate enough that our loved ones will have to lay us to rest when we die, but with a little help from these newly-forming features, we can make sure they do not have to experience further pain by having to do so a second time – digitally.

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