A relatively well-known Australian media identity died a few days ago. Everything about Charlotte Dawson’s passing was sad and there have since been a myriad of articles, posts and insights into her life and important issues like depression, online bullying, social media and trolls. That’s not what this post is about.
In fact, it’s not even about Charlotte. Rather, her passing reminded me of something that’s long plagued me so I thought I’d share it with you.
And yes… everything’s always about me!
Charlotte was an avid user of social media. Indeed, although not a fan, I followed her Twitter and Instagram accounts. After her passing her Twitter account lay dormant. Untouched.
Which brings me to my question.
What happens to our social media accounts and blogs after we die?
I’m not trying to be glib or frivolous or make light of death, but it’s something I’ve wondered for years. While I wish I was more of a creative dreamer willing to leave fate in the hands of the gods, it seems I’m too practical for that.
I blog. I have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. I have Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles and accounts as well, but engage far less in those communities.
It’s occurred to me (often) that if something happened to me, my pages and blog would not die with me, but lie dormant. It’s not like I have gazillions of readers around the world, but I have a group of regular readers in a range of countries. They wouldn’t know if something unexpected occurred. They’d notice that I just stopped writing. And they’d wonder.
They might put a message on my blog or Facebook or Twitter asking if I was okay. But it would go unanswered.
Social Media – Deceased User Policies
It isn’t surprising that various social media platforms have a range of formal policies and procedures in relation to deceased persons’ accounts. It’s not HUGELY straightforward however.
Twitter provides an ‘extensive’ list of information it requires to have the account of a deceased person deactivated. And Facebook has recently changed its policy on deceased accounts after apparently engaging in further discussions with its users. Similarly Instagram’s policy is to remove the account of a deceased person (when requested and with relevant documentation – though less lengthy than that required by Twitter).
While that takes care of the account itself… I wondered about those left behind. Does that mean accounts just disappear? What about our friends and readers around the world? Are they just left wondering?
Closure for readers and followers
No one knows my login details and my mother wouldn’t know how to contact my blog host or WordPress (website platform) to get access to my account. Similarly, my next-of-kin don’t know my login details or passwords for my social media accounts.
There would be no announcement or explanation. I would just disappear. And soon I’d be forgotten. Readers would stop checking my blog for updates and it’d get deleted from online favourites. If the blog and accounts weren’t deleted they’d just stay there. Frozen in time. Forever.
And the alternative? My accounts would be deleted. Just like THAT. Poof. #gone
So it’s occurred to me that I should provide my next of kin with online login and password information. Akin to a spare key to one’s house or safe combination. Just in case.
Anyone else ever pondered on what becomes of our social media accounts after death?
I’m linking with Jess and the IBOT team today.
PS. (In completely unrelated news), the competition I’m running to win compression wear closes at 5pm today, so get your entries in!