Global TV Tech Buzz: Your Digital Legacy


Facebook‘s user base should cross 1 billion by the end of this year. Despite all the social network connections amongst all of us on the site, there is only one thing that every social media user has in common – we will die.

So what happens to the content we create when we are no longer here?

Derek K Miller was a colleague of mine who passed away last year. He had cancer, and knew his time was short. He thought long and hard about his digital legacy and took the steps to make sure the content he created for the web would live on after he was gone. He even crafted a final blog post to be posted when he died. It was a post that made headlines around the world.

A new Facebook app, If I Die, is giving people a chance to think like Derek and prerecord video or text messages to be shared when the inevitable happens. The campaign behind the app is very cheeky, but it is something worth thinking about.

The complex web we are weaving between digital and physical worlds is one the courts are already wrestling with. Families have had to get court orders to get access to Facebook content from deceased relatives, and it’s only going to get more complicated. Making plans for a digital will is a step in the right direction. To that end, there are a number of websites who will help you with that digital estate planning.

One final thought that might have you thinking twice before you post something silly online. You never know when your time is up. The next Facebook post or tweet might be your last, and it will be the last thing generations of your family will see from you. Make it count, like Heavy D did.

heavy d twitter

Most of your social media and online accounts will have a policy which dictates what happens to your account when you die (you’ll note @HeavyD has been deactivated while @DJ_AM is still online):

TWITTER
By contacting Twitter, family or friends can download a copy of your public tweets and close your account. Your digital executor will need to provide their name and contact details, their relationship to you, your Twitter username and a link to or copy of your obituary.

FACEBOOK
Facebook’s policy about a user who dies gives you two options: Close the account, or leave it open as a memorial. When a page becomes a memorial, Facebook will edit out some information, and only friends confirmed at the time of memorial will be able to access it, and the site will be removed from search. A Facebook account in memorial status can’t be altered and can’t be accessed via password.

GOOGLE
YouTube allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content. Google+ and Gmail will provide account information to family members at their discretion.

FLICKR
Flickr has a VERY strict digital death policy where, upon receiving a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents meaning no one can ever access them. “People who register for a Yahoo! account agree to a Terms of Service, including a No Right of Survivorship and Non-Transferability clause,” the company says in a statement on the topic. Make sure you have another backup of any images on Flickr, or they could be lost forever.

So, outside Flickr, the sites can be pretty good about helping family members get access to your information after you’re gone. Having to go about leaving them a password to get in to your accounts is probably a step you don’t have to take.

But you should let them know the sites where you have content worth collecting, and what you want done with your stuff. Just as you plan out your physical burial, you should think about your digital one too.

Your content in the cloud belongs to the provider. There are prediction engines that already exist and some say our content could be used to create holograms to exist with future generations. Creepy, but cool at the same time.

action movie fxAPP OF THE WEEK: Action Movie FX – free
From Bad Robot, the studio Lost creator JJ Abrams runs, comes a great collection of special effects you can add to your home movies. Take a clip, and then roll a car, fire a laser, or drop a huge boulder in the middle of the scene. It’s a lot of fun, and your kids will be begging to be shot up in the middle of your home movies.

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