Social media continues to be a constant in our everyday lives. Many of us access multiple accounts daily, where we interact, share photos and create memories with our friends and the digital world.
We use social media to capture instantaneous memories and re-share old ones with our networks, almost like a diary or journal. By continuously posting and thinking of our next sharable moment, we sometimes forget to think what our digital footprint will look like when we're no longer able to update and edit it ourselves.
If you've never thought about what will happen to your digital presence after death, you're not alone. But just as planning your own funeral is important, so too is thinking about what happens to your online presence when you're no longer around to be its curator.
There are several things to consider when determining your digital after-life, along with steps you can take to deal with your data.
Make a list of your accounts and login information
When thinking about your digital life plan, a necessary step is to create a list of your accounts, including login details and passwords. Regardless of if your loved ones might be aware of some of them, a complete list, along with your email account information, helps to cover all your bases.
It is advisable to keep this list with your other personal information, such as health or financial records. Or, consider storing this information in a secure online password manager.
Much like leaving your banking information for a loved one, these details can ensure the online memories you want to be preserved remain, and that your digital footprint is protected and left in the right hands.
Identify a legacy contact
You may be surprised to know that to-date, the only social mediums that offer the option to appoint a legacy contact are Instagram and its parent company Facebook.
According to Facebook, "A legacy contact is someone you choose to manage your account after you pass away. They'll be able to do things like pin a post on your timeline, respond to new friend requests and update your profile picture. They won't post as you or see your messages." Facebook also provides users with the option to set an annual reminder to review your legacy contact, which can be changed at any time.
Have a conversation with your friends and family
Although the topic of death can be difficult to discuss, consider having an open conversation with friends and family about their social media footprint.
You may choose to open the conversation over dinner or bring it up when talking about someone's recent profile update or a photo posted. Rather than focusing on death, instead discuss how you and your loved one's plan for the afterlife. This can lead to a more interesting and open conversation while providing a stepping stone to think and speak about other aspects of your life that you may want to consider including in your plans.
Decide what you want to happen
Once you've decided what you'd like to happen to your digital footprint, consider including your wishes in your will or in a separate letter to your chosen legacy contact.
You may have different plans for each account, so be sure to include specific details in your instructions, such as where login information can be found. Keep in mind that for close family and friends, your social media may be something they want to keep to re-live and cherish memories they hold close and reflect on times shared with you. Your social media profiles may also be used as a way for people to share condolences; creating a group seems popular for the younger generation.
If a more toned-down presence seems in-line with your wishes, specify if there are certain memories or moments you may wish to have taken offline.
No matter what you decide, feel confident that your loved ones will respect your wishes. Your social media accounts can offer solace to grieving friends and family and allow them to find comfort in the memories you've shared.