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How to prepare for your digital afterlife

Sharon Gaudin | Feb. 16, 2015
On Thursday, Facebook announced that it's allowing users to set up a "legacy contact" — a family member or friend who can manage a person's social account when they die.

"Before our systems take any action, we'll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you've provided," wrote Andreas Tuerk, Google's product manager, in a blog post. "We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife — in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you're gone."

As for Twitter, the company notes on its site that it will work with anyone authorized to act on behalf of the deceased user's estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated.

And while Facebook may own photo-sharing site Instagram, Facebook's new policy for heirs does not apply to Instagram.

With Instagram, people can go to this site to try to memorialize the account of someone who has died. Instagram also explains that memorialized accounts can't be changed — and posts that the deceased had shared on Instagram stay on Instagram.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said he's not sure how many people care about what happens to their social accounts once they die, but as social networks become more ingrained in people's lives, they are likely to become an increasingly important part of our estates.

"I think those who care, would like a static goodbye on their site," he added.


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