What happens to our content on Internet when we die!
We spend a great deal of time online these days and many have a big social network online that they interact with daily. Considering this new way of interacting it has become important to think about what will happen to all the content online when we die. It is also important to think about what we can do to protect the things we upload to different sites online. And it is even more important to take necessary steps if we also write online and make some money from our work!
Most of us has knowledge about what will happen to our worldly belongings when we die. And we also know how it will be done! We have insurances and maybe we have written a will or a letter to our relatives and friends, just in case something would happen to us. If we live in a relationship or are married we will make sure that the other person knows where everything is and I believe that most of us don't have so many secrets hidden from the spouse! Even though we are all unique we are also pretty common and most of us puts security for our family first by taking steps to protect the children and the family!
But even if that is more or less usual in the ”real” world it isn't so common in the social world on Internet. Personally, I haven't told my spouse or my family about my accounts or exactly what I do on Internet. Of course they all know my name on HubPages and that I write on other places too, but they don't know where exactly. If they search for my name, they will see some of it, but not all!
Our digital life!
When I think about how much time I spend on my social life on Internet it seems very strange that I haven't done anything so far to protect it in case something would happen to me. Our digital life is becoming more important and the social life online takes up more time than ever in peoples life. But mostly I think people treat it as a social thing that doesn't have any meaning when we die or will have no relevance when we are dead. That is possibly true in the beginning, but with time most of us will have things to protect and it is always better do think about it before something happens.
What is there to protect?
On social media the content we have online is mostly pictures and short sentences. But it is also a story about a person and a life. Especially with the new timeline on Facebook that with time will become like a story of a persons life if we choose to use Facebook that way. Both photos and the story of our life could be worth something for those who are left behind. I know that the best memories of a loved one that has died, comes from memories of real meetings and from the time we have spent together with that person. But I also know that the memory of a persons face fade away with time and we need the photos to remember every detail that once was so familiar and well known. My father died when I was 15 years old and I remember him clearly in some situations where I can put him in an context but his face is a bit blurred if I don't see him on a photo. The small details are gone from my memory and I didn't get the opportunity to know him as an adult. If Facebook had been invented before he died and if he had used it, it would be a goldmine for me to get to know him as an adult. With that in mind I think it is important to have an option to save some of it.
Our friends on Internet
The way we make friends on Internet and interact with them isn't so unlike the way we interact with friends in the real world. Sometimes I even think that I get to know my online friends better than some people I know in the real world. I guess that it because with some online friends we will be given the opportunity to meet the real person from their actions and their words. We follow them through happiness and sorrows and we judge them from their thoughts rather than from their looks. We see only bits and pieces of a person and we see the pictures without references because we where not there at the time the photo was taken. We have immediate contact through Internet but we have also no way to get in contact with a person who suddenly decide to shut down their account online or if they die. In either case we will miss them deeply and we will wonder what had happen to them. I have lost several people during my time online and in most cases I assume that the person simply moved their online presence to another site or just left. Maybe that is good enough and maybe we have to live with that? Personally I think that is a vital part of the freedom of Internet interactions, that I can decide when I want out, without feeling the need to tell everyone. But here come the first problem because I would want to say goodbye to many of the people I know online. All my followers and the people that I follow and interact with daily are examples of people I wouldn't want to just walk away from without a world.
What happens to our copyright work on Internet?
This is a question I have asked myself lately! I guess we all have our way of organise things in our lives and I am sure there are people who are very well organised and have all their accounts, their usernames and passwords written down in a place that is well known to the family. But I haven't! My family wouldn't have a clue where to start searching and even if they did it is useless since some of it is only in my head or is written down on small notes of papers with only bits and parts of the relevant information. And this is so unlike me, because in my real world I am very well organised with all paperworks in order even if it isn't perfect. And that is my point here, that maybe there are more online people who treats their online presence and online work in the same way as I do? A bit more like a hobby that isn't so important and doesn't belong with the insurance papers!
It is also worth knowing that copyright work is still copyright work even after the authors dead. For how long vary a bit in different countries but it can be for 50-70 years after after an author's death.
What happens to our profiles on Internet?
Apparently their are no specific rules on how to deal with the profiles of a deceased. So every Internet site make up the rules for their site and some of the social networking sites let the relatives transform the profile page to a memorial. That sounds good to me because then also virtual friends will know what has happen. Even if we are modern people who have learned how to interact online in a very fast way with short sentences, we are still humans and we act like humans, which means that the person behind the username and the interaction with that person is the most important for us as humans. And what happens to messages we have sent to others? In some cases I imagine that the messages we send online is very private, and what happens if the person die and you want your messages back? Is that even possible? There are many questions and I think that more questions will arise in the future.
Have you thought about what happens to our content on Internet when we die?
Have you made any preparations?
Tips on what you can do if you want to have some control over this!
- Talk with your family and relatives and come to agreements on how and where you all have account information to different sites online. That goes for your children too.
- You should encrypt your passwords and your data over accounts and give the key to someone you trust.
- There are companies online where you can store your data but make sure you can trust them before you hand over all your data to them. Even if Internet is safe, once it it out there it can get hacked.
- Find out how the site you use manage deceased peoples profiles and accounts and make preparations according to their rules.
- Include all your accounts online like YouTube accounts, hosting sites, domain sites, e-mail accounts and so on in your preparations. When I think of all the different accounts I have online it feels a bit overwhelming. It is so easy to sign up to different accounts and we have probably more accounts and passwords than we need.
The new way of interacting online is new and we need to think about these things and treat our online presence with a little more respect. At least I know that I need to.
Please feel free to tell me how you handle your internet content and your thoughts on this subject!