Your online privacy preferences after you die

Your online privacy preferences after you die

Our whole lives are online, so we need to start thinking about how much of that will remain private after we die. If you’ve kept a low profile on Facebook your whole life, you’re likely want to remain so after you die. Here we take a look at how to state your privacy preferences for after you die.

Sticking around online after you die

Every minute, we share more than 2.5 million posts on Facebook, create over 300,000 tweets and send more than 204 million text messages. In the 21st century, we’ve kept up the tradition of continuing bonds with the dead because we can’t get away from them.

Most of us have dead relatives or friends in our phone’s contacts list, and some of us even have Facebook friendships with dead loved ones, old text messages from those no longer around and even ghostly Skype contacts. It’s not surprising that online privacy has become such a big issue for the dead when they never really leave the Web.

Should digital data be treated as private?

Under its current policy, Facebook only allows relatives to change an account into an online memorial or to delete it. It’s natural for those of us left behind to flick through old photos, remind ourselves of some of the inside jokes exchanged, or even trawl through the hordes of memes you’ve shared.

This might sound nightmarish to you if you’re hot on privacy, similar to the fears you had about your mum finding your teenage diary. Facebook certainly thinks so; it’s seen as a violation of privacy for your relatives to gain access to your account after you die.

What security risks does your online self face after you die?

While there’s value for your family in what you’ve created online throughout your life, your identity is also valuable to those looking for a spot of criminal cyber-activity.

It can take up to 6 months for banks and credit providers to process the death of a customer, and the social media platforms you have accounts with may never be notified. Dead people can’t monitor their credit or what they look like if their name is typed into Google search.

Here’s a few possibilities to get you thinking about online privacy after you die:

  • Identity theft among dead people is rife. You’re not around to flag up any suspicious activity (though banks are now hot on this problem), and you can’t make a complaint from beyond the grave
  • Using email address for fraud purposes is quite common; inactive accounts are ripe for hackers, with email addresses bought and sold on the so-called Dark Web
  • Hacking is popular on inactive and deactivated Facebook accounts, too
  • You’re not around to defend any comments you post, content you create or the ramblings of your teenage blog; if you don’t want to become infamous online after you die, you should think about the privacy of the Web persona you leave behind

Getting the privacy you want after you die

Here’s a few solutions to get you thinking about planning for your digital death privacy:

  • Set up a Google Inactive Account Manager to make sure you know what will happen to your Google account after you die
  • Leave instructions in your will that outline your online privacy preferences for after you die
  • Create a Facebook Legacy Contact who will be instructed to turn your account into a Memorial page after you die
  • Ensure that banks, other online banking services, your web providers or anything other service will be told about your death – have a word with family members or state this in your will

Find out more

There’s more to your Digital Death than you might realise. That’s why we’ve dedicated a whole page to it:

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