I’m about to introduce a topic most of us would rather avoid: our digital heritage. In other words, what will happen to all our digital goods after we die? (And if your answer is “This won’t happen,” you haven’t been paying much attention lately, have you?)
If you’re reading this, you probably have a lot of digital stuff circulating both on your own devices and in the cloud: backups, photos, tweets, Facebook messages, texts, you name it. If you no longer pay attention, they may be around for too long, and some of them may be important to your survivors. (For example, who else has the passwords to your bank accounts and credit cards?)
So let’s take a deep breath and discuss how you can make things easier for your friends and relatives if something happens to you.
To begin with, if you are old enough (or knowledgeable enough) to make a will, then the person who made your will (the person tasked with seeing that the terms of the will have been met) will also have the legal basis for access. your digital assets: online accounts, websites, etc. Revised Trust-Based Access to Digital Assets ActIt is enacted by the majority of states in the USA. (As of this writing, it has not been adopted by California, Oklahoma, or Louisiana; it has not yet been introduced in Massachusetts.)
You might want to consider entrusting the passwords to at least one person on your computer and/or your password manager – or consider putting this information in a safe place, as there will be no benefit to your relatives or friends having the right to take care of your data if you don’t have passwords, and let at least one person know where that place is.
However, the Law does not apply to social media sites – this can be a problem. Joyful to be able to include in your will the people you want to entrust all of your social media accounts to, this might make things a little easier for them – but it will still involve a lot of back and forth as they prove their right to manage those accounts.
If you can’t manage your cloud and/or social media accounts, there are several companies that are adding features that allow you to pre-plan who is in charge. Listed here are how some of the major online services have handled (or haven’t) handled the situation.
Apple iCloud Digital Heritage
Until recently, accessing a deceased family member’s iCloud account could be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have that person’s account. recovery key. However, Apple has recently added a Digital Heritage program to iCloud accounts that allows you to name up to five Old Contacts who can access your account. The program is available from iOS 15.2 onwards.
To set up your Legacy Contacts:
- Go to Settings and tap your name at the top of the page.
- Select Password & Security > Old Contact.
- This is where you can add the names of people who will be able to access and download your data after your death; it also lists anyone who has listed you as an Ex. Tap on Add Old Contact to add a name.
- The next page explains that you should choose someone you trust and that person will need to have your access key and a copy of your death certificate. Tap the Add Old Contact button.
- You will be presented with a list of your contacts. Choose one.
- Again, a page will explain what information the person can access. Tap on Continue.
- You can now choose how to share your access key (which is a very long string of numbers and letters). If you send a message to the old contact you selected with the access key and if they accept and If they have iOS 15.2, the key is stored in Apple settings. Otherwise, you can print a copy for them as a hard copy or PDF.
Google Inactive Account Manager
Google’s Inactive Account Manager is one of the most complete tools for taking care of your digital heritage, even if you’re temporarily too sick to get things done.
- Start by going to Inactive Account Manager and click Start. You will go through three setups: when the inactive account manager will kick in, who will be notified, and whether everything will be deleted.
- First, you decide whether the administrator will activate it if your account has been inactive for three, six, 12 or 18 months. You will also be asked to verify a phone number and/or one or more email accounts where you can be contacted. If you haven’t signed in, Google will use their phone number or email address to contact you a month before your set time expires to make sure you’re no longer around (and don’t forget about you). had an account).
- The next page allows you to list up to ten people who should be warned by Google that your account is not being used. For each contact, you can specify exactly which apps they need access to, from your calendar and contacts to your Google account and purchases. You can also allow them to access all your apps.
- If you want, you can add their phone number so Google can use it to verify their identity (and even more creepily, you can add a personal message to send them).
- You can also enable a Gmail message to anyone who emails you after the admin starts and says the account is no longer active. You can have the message sent to anyone who emails you, or only to people in your contact list.
- Finally, you can have your entire account deleted three months after it has been declared inactive. This would also include shared public data such as YouTube videos, according to Google. (If you’ve chosen someone to have access to your account, this will give them three months before account withdrawal to save anything they want.)
- Finally, you will have a chance to review your plan and confirm that this is what you want.
Facebook Memory Settings
Facebook calls its digital heritage feature Memorialization Settings. Similar to Google’s and Apple’s – it allows a selected person to access your account after your death. The only difference is, since Facebook is often used to commemorate people who have died, there are some extra things to watch out for.
- For starters, on the Facebook site, click the down arrow in the upper-right corner and go to Settings & Privacy > Settings. Make sure you are in the General section (the first category in the left column) and select Memory Settings.
- The page will open to explain that you can choose an old person who can manage tribute posts on your site, delete your site, accept new friends and update your profile. The person you choose will be contacted by Facebook, so it’s probably a good idea to talk to them ahead of time.
- You can also choose to have your account permanently deleted via a link at the bottom of that page. If you do not choose this, Facebook will “remember” your account as soon as it learns that you are no longer alive. This means that the word “Remember” will be placed on your page, your content will remain, and your friends can leave messages on their timeline.
Twitter does not provide any way for you to transfer your account to a family member or friend after your death. Someone who wants to close the account of a deceased Twitter user, fill out the form and then submit a pile of paperwork, including their ID and death certificate. They will not be allowed to access the account.
Like Twitter, Instagram offers no way to plan ahead of time who will access your account or what to do with it. Instead of, the site will memorialize the account receives proof, such as a newspaper clipping or death certificate. Family members can also request the closure of an account, if any. appropriate evidence.
As of this writing, there are no other social media sites that I know of that have specific features for what happens when a user is no longer around. Instead, bailiffs, family members or others with legal standing must provide the paperwork required before an account can be deleted.