Tuesday, 12 August 2014

What Happens To Your Online Accounts When You Die?

Image: cdn.keystoneclick.com
Robin Williams just died. Planes are in a habit of taking a nose dive nowadays. Aside from the daily broadsheets or on CNN or on any news agencies, I assumed you’ll be hearing those news on social media. Today, you might post your condolences to the family of Robin Williams, you might twit about it (might be trending now #RIPRobinWilliams), you might post some screen grabs of Mrs. Doubtfire on your Instagram…that is today. What about tomorrow?

Out of the blue, I wondered, WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR ACCOUNT WHEN YOU DIE? Though, death is quite a taboo thing for some to discuss, but hey, like it or not, we’re all mortals and someday we’ll get there.

Nowadays, most of us lives in a two parallel universe, our physical being and the virtual ones (who don’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? Even those people who don’t know what e-mail is have an email address just to be connected). Unlike our physical assets, i.e. real estate, titulo ng lupa, pera sa banko, even your favorite pets and toys and gadgets, where you can have a will and leave it to someone after your demised, I don’t know if you can do that on your online account… you might be able to put it on your will, because it is very unlikely that after your death people will expect a twit or a post from you “hey guys I’m dead” or "astig men...lakas ng wi-fi dito"..."#feelslikeheaven"...wag na naman mag-selfie...katakot na 'yon.

If you’re have a Facebook user, Facebook has a Memorialization Request for those deceased users. The family of the deceased can fill up a form and submit it to Facebook. Some documents needs to be submitted (death certificate, deceased person's birth certificate, or proof of authority). The request can be made by the immediate relatives like the spouse or the parents, even non-family member like your friend or a classmate. Facebook offers to memorialized the account, remove the account, its not clear though if an access to the deceased's account will be given to the petitioner.

Facebook Memorialization Request


Image: samapplegate
When the your twitting days are over, then again your family have to send a lot of documents to Twitter. The good thing about it though is that they will digitalized all public twits of the user and hand it to the beneficiary. Here are the documents required:
  1. The username of the deceased user's Twitter account (e.g., @username or twitter.com/username)
  2. A copy of the deceased user’s death certificate
  3. A copy of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license)
  4. A signed statement including:
  • Your first and last name
  • Your email address
  • Your current contact information
  • Your relationship to the deceased user or their estate
  • Action requested (e.g., ‘please deactivate the Twitter account’)
  • A brief description of the details that evidence this account belongs to the deceased, if the name on the account does not match the name on death certificate.
  • A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)

And you’ll send the above documentations by fax of by mail on the address below:

Twitter, Inc.
c/o: Trust & Safety
1355 Market St., Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Fax : 1-415-865-5405

Image: balmir.com
On its Privacy and Safety Centre, Instagram had a clear statement that “to protect the privacy of people on Instagram, we’re unable to provide anyone with login information to an account”, though as per their policy they will remove the account of the deceased person by providing them the following documents:

  1. The deceased person's birth certificate
  2. The deceased person's death certificate
  3. Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate
  4. An obituary

Moreover, if it’s still being connected is your game after the last of your breath depart from your mortal body, there are some company that will memorialized or immortalized you on the virtual world, check this link for the lists: http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com/online-services-list/.

And that’s it…goodbye for now.

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