There has been a huge change in the way we use the internet over the past decade. The rapid growth of technology has made the internet almost inseparable from our daily lives. And in some instances, people live vicariously through their numerous online personas.
That opinion, while it gives the impression of a hot take, is backed by data. About 4.88 billion people use the internet for various purposes. These people have created personas, created relationships, and built communities with people from around the world through the online space.
As we think about the lives that we have built online, it’s not completely strange to think about what happens to your accounts when you die. You may have lost family or friends over the past decade, and these people most likely had an online footprint with the various social media accounts they made and services they used.
While it was easy for us to create online accounts on these sites, what’s done with them posthumously is a different matter. Different platforms have specific policies for users that passed, and it pays to know what happens to the online persona you built.
This piece will unveil what happens to your accounts when the inevitable occurs. We hope that you have the proper knowledge to learn how to manage your accounts after your death by the end of this article.
What Usually Happens to Your Online Accounts When You Pass?
It’s easy to assume that your accounts will become stagnant if you don’t make any plans to deal with your profiles after your death. However, accounts owned by deceased people won’t simply remain as is. In some cases, your profile might even be used for nefarious reasons after you pass.
The most obvious fate of accounts belonging to the deceased is that they stay the same. If the social network isn’t informed that the account owner died, everything associated with the account will remain how it is for a long time.
However, one bit of information people must understand about their online data is that they might not actually belong to you. The terms and conditions you agreed to while creating your account may declare that your account will be deactivated after death or a certain period of inactivity.
The unfortunate fate for some accounts is that they get used for criminal activities. Compromised logins and cloning, an act where a criminal adds a deceased’s family and friends with a cloned account to steal money off them, are becoming increasingly common.
Fortunately, various social media channels have established means for deceased users to delete or memorialize their accounts. It’s never a bad idea to have a plan for your accounts if you unexpectedly pass, so you should take the time to read the fine print and understand what happens to your accounts when you die.
What Do the Tech Giants Say?
Since death is a natural part of life, tech giants have protocols to run to when a user of their services passes. The tricky part is memorizing all these policies since they vary from one another.
Being one of the largest social media platforms where people broadcast their lives, it should be no surprise that Facebook (or should we say Meta?) has already thought about what happens when their users shuffle off this mortal coil.
There are four ways you can handle your account should you pass. If you want your account to disappear after your demise, you can set your account to be deleted when Facebook is notified of your passing.
You can also keep it a memorialized account that family and friends can visit after your death. A legacy contact can handle your account in your stead is another option. The final choice is to create a group for family and friends to remember you by.
Unlike Facebook, deactivation is the only way to go for Twitter accounts of deceased people. The estate of the deceased person must verify with Twitter that the person has indeed passed before they go ahead with the deactivation. This is also offered to incapacitated users.
The Inactive Account Manager is Google’s approach to dealing with the accounts of deceased users. This measure notifies someone that you’re giving them control of your accounts to a trusted contact. They will be notified that they’ll be handling your account in the event of your demise. They can then deactivate your accounts under the Google umbrella or access your data.
At Apple, we consider privacy to be a fundamental human right, and customers expect us to help keep their information private and secure at all times. In the unfortunate event of a customer’s death, Apple will not be in a position to know if they would want their information to be shared with anyone or with whom they might want to share it.
They also have a ‘No Right to Survivorship’ clause in their iCloud user policy, which states that your account is non-transferable and any content within your account will be deleted upon your death. They’ll also need a death certificate for verification before they totally close your account.
If you authorized a family member or friend to act on your behalf, you can have your LinkedIn profile memorialized. Otherwise, your data will be deleted from the system after 21 days. LinkedIn also requires documents like court orders or letters of administration before they take the necessary actions on your account.
While TikTok is one of the most popular platforms, it is still a relatively new one, which explains why it doesn’t have a set policy for memorializing an account in the event of a user’s death. The best way to deal with your TikTok account after your death is to have someone sort it out for you, which means giving your login details to someone else.
How About Your Other Accounts?
Your social media channels aren’t the only digital assets that you have. You have online banking accounts and websites that you also need to consider in your digital will.
Personal websites and blogs
Most of these sites are usually maintained on a yearly subscription basis, so you and your estate can just choose to let your site disappear once its domain expires. However, you can also choose to keep it running by having your will’s executor maintain the site in your stead. There are also other actions you can take, such as donating or selling your website and its assets.
You can name a beneficiary to your bank account to receive your money after the bank is notified of your death and subsequently close your account. You can also set your account as Payable on Death or Transferrable on Death.
If the account owner didn’t name a beneficiary, the executor of your will most likely use the funds to pay creditors and split the funds according to your will. If you owned a joint account upon your death, the remaining signer should be able to use the contents without issues. However, it’s also recommended that they check with the bank to avoid any mishaps.
If your livelihood consists of selling wares on eCommerce sites like Amazon, you can leave instructions with your loved ones on how your business will be run. Any stock and earnings that your business may have on the eCommerce platform can be transferred to your loved ones, but you will have no control over what happens to your account if they’re informed of your death.
If you want to keep the business running, you should give your login credentials to your appointed successors.
You may have accounts in different streaming services thanks to the streaming wars, and these can become a pain to deal with after your death. There’s no uniform policy on what streaming services do to the accounts of deceased users, so it’s best to have these accounts deleted after you pass.
How to Prepare Your Digital Accounts in Case of Your Passing
While it’s something we usually don’t want to think about, it’s good to have an action plan about your digital assets upon your death. Having one sorted ahead of time will help your loved ones organize your digital affairs without issues.
What follows are the steps you can take to have a solid digital will.
- Create an inventory of your digital footprint. Create a list of your accounts, which includes the username, password, and what you want done with such accounts.
- Name a trusted person as the executor of your digital will. The person you entrust your accounts with will be expected to carry out your wishes for your digital accounts.
- Draft detailed instructions. Make sure that your digital will is easy to read and execute. The last thing you want is for the executor to misunderstand your intentions.
- Store your digital will in a safe space or include it in your will. Your digital accounts have become an important part of your life, so it’s not a bad idea to include your social media into your will. Otherwise, you can store your digital will in a safe space that will only be touched by the executor upon your death.
Prepare for the Future, Have a Worry-Free Life
Life has to end for it to be beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that we have to leave things in chaos when we pass. Having your digital footprint sorted before you pass is a great way to ensure that your affairs are taken care of should anything unfortunate happen.
Another way to prepare for life’s surprising twists and turns is growing your business to the best it can be. There’s no better gift you can leave to your loved ones than an enterprise that reaches the potential you’ve long known is there.
One way to achieve this is by maximizing your business’ online presence. If you need help in growing your business, contact a trusted digital marketing agency like Spiralytics. We have the digital marketing experts and industry experience you need to help your company reach its goals and more.