By the year 2098, there will be more dead people than living people on Facebook, according to analysis by a statistics student at the University of Massachusetts.
But the only way to take control over how you appear to the world after death is to do so now, while you are still alive.
There’s several ways to do this – including putting passwords into your will, so that relatives can access your accounts.
Legally speaking, any downloaded albums, ebooks and games you’ve bought are no longer yours after death – you purchase a ‘licence’ to use them, which expires on death.
But gaining access even to a relative’s photo albumms without a password can sometimes be extremely difficult.
Earlier this year, a bereaved Canadian woman was told by Apple representatives, ‘You need a court order,’ to access her husband’s Apple ID account – despite having provided a will, a notarized death certificate, and the serial numbers of an iPad and a Mac.
Peggy Bush said, ‘I thought it was ridiculous. I could get the pensions, I could get benefits. But from Apple, I couldn’t even get a silly password.’
It’s something worth considering if you ARE making a will – but with many services, there are steps you can take now to control your ‘digital inheritance’.
Facebook – you can choose to disappear or be ‘memorialised’
After you die, your relatives will be able to ‘memorialise’ your account – which means it won’t show up in searches, among other things – or remove it.
Your relatives will be able to do this without your password, needing only a proof of your death (ie a newspaper obituary), and verification of their identity.
If they choose to memorialise you your profile will say, ‘Remembering NAME’ with the date of your death.
But if you’ve got strong preferences either way, you can decide to be deleted, or memorialised, and store this preference in your Facebook acccount.
Facebook’s instructions on how to do this are here.
You’ll need to nominate a ‘Legacy Contact’, and when you die, they will be able to delete your page.