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What happens to digital data after you die?

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Jovana Stevanovic
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In the past, dividing someone’s assets after their death was pretty simple in most cases, especially if they left a will. However, these assets were almost entirely physical. We live in a digital world, where the majority of information is stored online. Have you ever considered what will happen to your digital data after you pass away?

Would someone have access to all of your hard drive content and online accounts? There is an option to leave a digital will and list all the log in credentials you have created. If you can remember them all, of course. However, it is important to consider one thing – wills become public documents after death; therefore, your information would be available to anyone.

Digital data storage

Nowadays, there are different services that allow digital asset management and protection. After passing away, your data can be managed, shared, or deleted, according to your wishes. There is an option of ensuring the data is legally protected and controlling who will have access to your digital assets upon your death.

When it comes to your computer(s), there is different software that will either wipe out the hard drive, or encrypt it with one or multiple passwords if you haven’t logged in for a specified period. All these tools are certainly very valuable, but no one can guarantee they will be around in 50 or more years, when you actually might need their services.

If no one ensures any type of action for their online accounts after their death, search and the web will eventually become cluttered with dead, unmaintained websites, which could lead to many potential problems.

Digital death policy

Some online services have policies that deal with digital data after your death. Facebook will “memorialise” the account if death is reported. This will prevent anyone from ever logging in to the account but allow friends to continue writing and commenting on your page. Twitter will provide a copy of all of your public tweets and then close the account.

LinkedIn, Yahoo and E-bay will close the account if proof of death is provided. PayPal will do the same and if there are are any funds remaining, it will issue a check to the name of the account holder. However, Gmail and Hotmail have different policies. They will grant full account details to heirs, but this requires plenty of documentation and can be a very lengthy process.

Digital data suicide

If you don’t want to deal with leaving your login credentials behind and wish to remove yourself from different social networks, there is a solution. Suicide Machine allows you to submit your information and watch it remove all of your friends/connections/followers as well as information from your profiles until everything is completely gone.

What will you do with your digital data?

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About Jovana Stevanovic

Jovana Stevanovic
Having studied, worked and lived abroad for a number of years, Jovana has developed a diverse set of skills and a unique perspective into the business world, which she applies in her current role as Marketing Automation Consultant. Her passion for online marketing and a keen interest in global marketing trends are what drives her to produce effective online campaigns for international clients in the IT sector. Jovana graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and a minor in Public Relations. Jovana enjoys learning languages and is fluent in Serbian, English and Italian. Her other interests include social media, travelling and cooking.