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What Happens To Your Online Presence When You Die?

Who You Gonna Call?

There are a lot of people on social media websites at the moment and in a few years time we will encounter a problem like never before. Indeed Facebook's 1.23 billion active monthly users will, and it may be depressing but it's true: they will all one day pass away. The internet will then be faced with hundreds of  Facebook accounts owned by ghosts. How does the social media network deal with dead users? Here are some useful facts to prepare for your internet afterlife.

The big question is whether your friends and family will be able to access your account after your death and find out all your dirty little secrets. Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram all have different policies regarding deceased individual's accounts.

Good news: Facebook does not grant anyone, family or not, access to your account once you have been recognized as dead, and offers a service called memorialisation. Essentially Facebook keeps your account open and all your privacy settings remain the same, although your account will not appear in 'people you may know' and will not send out birthday reminders. Unfortunately this means that all your most embarrassing statuses will be immortalized for your friends and family to see.

Twitter, on the other hand, will deactivate your account at your family's request, provided you send them a lot of information to prove your claim. This includes username, death certificate, proof that the deceased used that user name and a copy of your ID. Twitter will go one step further and also delete all circulating pictures of the deceased at their family's request. With further probing though this only applies to high profile cases such as individuals sending Zelda Williams pictures of her deceased father Robin.

Google has the most effective way of dealing the with the death of its users. You can set up in advance what you would like to happen in the event of your death or if your account isn't used after a certain amount of time. You can even request that a family member or a friend receive your account details and your emails.

Instagram is the most obscure of the lot and at the moment do not seem to have a clear protocol about what to do with dead users. A family member can contact them and request to have the account deleted and Instagram will oblige. Unlike Facebook, with its 'Look Back' service, Instagram does not seem to offer the possibility of downloading your loved one's pictures or receiving a nice video of them.

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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What Happens To Your Online Presence When You Die? Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, October 02, 2014 Rating: 5
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