By the end of this century, the number of dead people on Facebook is expected to outnumber living members – turning it into the world’s biggest ‘virtual graveyard’.
Due to our strong interest in social media and our ‘online life’, there are a growing number of people who wish to leave a digital legacy when they pass away. This trend is becoming more common, with many people looking to leave goodbye messages to their loved ones via social networks or avatars.
Each social network has different rules regarding what happens to your account when you die but beyond each of these, there are other ways to manage your digital assets – enabling you to communicate with your family and friends online after you’ve died.
‘Dead Social’, enables its users to schedule posts after they have passed away. Users can choose text or video posts and assign a digital executor to send the message once they have died. It already has 11,000 users signed up and is expected to grow following a revamp next year.
Some networks are looking to create different ways for us to live on virtually after we’ve died. ‘Eternime’ collects your thoughts, stories and memories and creates an avatar that looks and speaks in your manner. Before you die, you begin speaking to the avatar so that they learn about you and your personality.
Similarly, ‘Eter9’, analyses your posts and comments on social media to learn about your personality, creating a virtual counterpart that will publish, comment and interact for you on your social networks following your death.
However, digital legacies can cause issues linked to privacy rules and data protection regulations, with many questioning who ‘owns’ your virtual life. Online assets are being viewed as an increasingly important subject and many people are now including clauses about them in their Wills.
Tom Curran, Chief Executive at Kings Court Trust said: “Using social networks to keep your legacy ongoing after you have died might seem like a somewhat alien concept to many of us, but it does flag up various issues. It is not entirely clear what happens to the data that’s been collected once you die and its use could cause upset to family members, particularly if they are unhappy with the content being posted by a virtual avatar. No matter what your intention is, it is important that you discuss what you would like your executor to do with your online accounts so that your final wishes can be carried out once you have died.”
For more information on our comprehensive estate administration service, visit www.kctrust.co.uk or contact us on 0300 303 9000.