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Dying Matters Week: Wednesday – Managing Your Digital Legacy

There is a very high chance you’re sitting reading these words on your smart phone right now. That isn’t a throwaway comment or assumption, Google Analytics reports that most of our web traffic is mobile based. So let’s use our phones as a prime example of your Digital Legacy.

Take a moment and think of the apps you have installed on your phone right now.
  • The majority of you will most likely have a Google account, allowing you access to Gmail, YouTube and Google Drive. You may also use Chrome as your browser with bookmarks, browsing history and stored logins. You’ll probably also use Maps and if location features are on, have your location history stored there.
  • You’ll almost definitely have one, if not all three, of the major social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – installed on your phone. You’re probably logged in to at least one right now.
  • If you continue to swipe through your apps you may well have banking app(s) along with alternate cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, Amazon Drive and OneDrive with media and content stored within.
  • Speaking of Amazon, there’s a good chance you’ll have the app – is it full of wishlist’s and digital downloads?
  • Some of you may also engage in web communities like Reddit, Discord and various forums.
  • We also can’t forget Xbox Live, Playstation Network and Steam accounts.

These are a mere handful of examples that help show the sheer scale our digital footprint in 2019. The more you think, the more accounts you’ll remember. How many times have you hit Log in with Facebook? How many old, unused accounts can you remember (is your Myspace page still there?)? It can be scary to think about just how many accounts you have.

What will happen to all this content – pictures, videos, conversations, plans, memories – upon your death? What will your Digital Legacy be?

This is why you should have a plan for what happens to all this information.

For example:

Do you want your Facebook to be memorialised?

“Memorialized accounts are a way for people on Facebook to remember and celebrate those who’ve passed away” – Facebook

Do you have a picture, video or message you want shared after your death?

If you know you’re ill, some people chose to write a little message, record a video or have a picture that will be posted on social media by a trusted loved one after your death.

The Digital Legacy Association have templates to help record a statement of preferences for your social media and other digital accounts

 

Do you want a trusted friend or family member to have access to certain accounts to let contacts overseas know that you’ve died? 

The internet allows us to communicate with people worldwide. You may be an active member of a forum talking about any number of hobbies & interests. Do you want a trusted person to leave a simple message saying you’ve died or are no longer active? Do you want them to share content you’ve created or ideas you’ve left behind?

Do you want to give a family member access to a photo archive in a storage platform? 

Some people chose to compile a special, secret photo album that will be shared with family upon their death filled with sentimental memories. Others may just wish for their family to have access to all their photos to do with as they see fit. Developed photos are becoming much rarer as the world goes more digital, so this can be the equivalent of finding a box of photos while clearing a house, giving your friends and family something to look back at fondly.

Do you want another trusted friend or family member to delete any sensitive information you may have stored?

If your job involves access to sensitive or personal information and you work from home, you may wish to leave instruction for the secure disposal of this information.

You may also have personal photos or information you don’t want certain family members or friends to see, you may wish to leave instruction for disposal.

Do you want to transfer digital content – games, music, movies, e-books to someone you think will enjoy them?

Various DRM rules may prohibit transfer of ownership, but you can certainly try to pass along your owned content.

Do you want content released?

Are you a composer, artist, influencer or content maker? Do you want your unfinished projects uploaded as they are, finished by a friend, saved for just family, deleted altogether?

Online subscriptions 

Most of these will simply expire when your bank cancels the transaction, but it is still wise to have a list of these compiled for manual cancellation to mitigate any risk.

Take some time today to really think about what information you store online and what you want done with the account (if anything) and who you want to give access to (if anyone). This is also a great chance for a little personal security exercise as you close down old unused accounts and update some long overdue password changes.

How do I manage who has access?

There are various, often competing, schools of thought on how you manage who gets access to various accounts after your death. We suggest you spend a while thinking about what profiles and content you have and then research the most secure methods of sharing this information. However, storage of passwords in plain text digitally or on paper is obviously dangerous as no matter how secure you think you are, accidents and leaks happen.

For more information on Digital Legacy, visit digitallegacyassociation.org

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