Your digital death legacy

Your digital death legacy

We’ve all got heaps of online stuff. Though, it isn’t usual that we’re able to count this stuff or put it safely away in a locked box. From your Kindle downloads to your photo uploads on Facebook, what we keep and hoard online is often the stuff that is most important to us. We all need to think about what to do with the ideas, memories and stories that we’ve created or consumed online.  

A recent survey conducted on behalf of Saga by Opinium Research showed that 87 per cent of people in the UK had no plans in place for their digital legacy when they died. This means most of us will leave behind a load of online stuff that will sit gathering (digital) dust. Here’s what you need to know about your digital property and how to reclaim some of it.

What is your digital legacy?

Your digital legacy is the digital information you leave behind when you die. It includes all the minute interactions you’ve had over the internet, including social media profiles, forum posts and any photos or videos uploaded and shared. That heated debate over the 2009 FA Cup final you had with an old colleague on Facebook? Yes, that’s going down in the annals of your digital history.

Your digital legacy also includes what you’ve bought and watched or read on streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime or iTunes, as well as any subscriptions.

Digital property

The music, books, TV shows and films we ‘buy’ from Apple, Amazon Prime or consume on a subscription, don’t belong to us. The long ramble you agreed to when you signed up to a platforms’ terms and conditions has it all laid out, but the legal stuff behind it isn’t always an enthralling read.

As Amazon puts it in its license terms, ‘Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider’. While you can leave your A Song of Ice and Fire collection taking up space on a shelf to your grandchildren, the stuff you download can be consumed but not passed on.

Planning for your digital death

We’ve already taken a look at the terms and conditions of popular social media platforms and seen which ones allow others to take them on, and which ones don’t. Read that article here.

Here, we’ll guide through the practical steps of recovering some of the data you have got stored on various platforms and browsers. You can start to reclaim a small  portion of your digital legacy back.

Downloading Facebook data

First, visit the Facebook settings page. Then, download the data you would like to save and pass on to a loved one.

When ‘a copy’ of your data is downloaded from Facebook no changes or alterations are made to your profile or account online.

Once your data has been downloaded you can choose the photos, videos and messages you want to save or pass on to someone to keep safe after you die. You can then share these, email them to friends, get them printed or copy them on to a DVD.

Saving Twitter data

Since 2012 Twitter has provided a tool that enables each user to download their own tweets. To do so you will need to login to Twitter and visit the settings page.

Here you can ‘Request your archive’ or, in other words, download a copy of your tweets.
Only the owner of the account can do this, so make sure you plan your Twitter archive before you go.

Importing bookmarks

It may be that you’ve been hoarding great snippets, important facts and interesting comment pieces that have stayed with you. If you’d like to share these and have other people look at them after you die, it’s easy to import bookmarks to other browsers to be accessed on another computer.

On Chrome, at least, you can import and export bookmarks to other browsers. Here’s the steps to follow:

  1. Select Bookmarks, then Import Bookmarks and Settings.
  2. Select the programme which contains the bookmarks that you’d like to import.
  3. Click Import.
  4. Click Finished.

Carry on your digital legacy

In a YouGov survey from 2013, 16% of people in the UK said they would prefer their profiles to remain online, with comments enabled. If you actually like the sound of a digital legacy, why not help to carry it on and shape your own digital death myth?

If you’re one of those people so hot on planning you’d like to schedule a few tweets beyond the grave – you can. There are now services which allow you to continue Tweeting after you die, using a bot that has studied your tweeting style.

Similarly, a trial service in the US called Dead Social is underway, where you can write out your final messages yourself. The service will then make sure your messages will be posted on to your Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter accounts. Alert your loved ones beforehand if you go in for this – no one wants to see you wading in on the latest Twitterstorm when you were supposed to have died six weeks ago.  

Whether you want to be remembered for your commentary on the modern world or you would rather not have your embarrassing photos out there while you’re not, planning for your digital death is important. Your legacy – whether it’s hundreds of Star Trek episode on Netflix or those air miles on a company account – should be dealt with as if it were any other property or assets.

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