Most of us probably have never thought about it. We have perhaps often heard that anything put on the internet is there forever, but that of course means it’s all still there after you are not.
A legacy is what you leave behind, and in these technological times, you also leave behind your digital legacy, and it can be extensive and complicated
Vicki McLeod is a consultant, columnist, and co-author of Digital Legacy Plan: A Guide to the Personal and Practical Elements of Your Digital Life Before You Die
Your online life possibly includes email accounts, private messages, social media accounts, financial accounts, photos and other information stored “on the cloud”. You also leave behind trails of personal relationships and perhaps there might also be some things you’d like to remain completely private even from those close to you.
Whatever the situation, McLeod says you should be thinking of what happens to all that should you die.
She says there is always a danger that abandoned accounts can be hacked with unpredictable results.
There’s also the situation which might be emotionally difficult, for family and friends to come across your digital footprints in postings and accounts after you’ve gone.
McLeod suggests you create a digital assets inventory.
You might also name a sort of digital executor or steward who would be given various passwords and other information in order to have those accounts deleted, or otherwise monitored. Also, perhaps before you create another account or profile ask yourself if you really do need that added web presence.
In any case, the important thing to realise that your online presence will outlive you.
She says a “digital legacy” plan is something to consider as part of a will or estate planning documents.
Rather than leave your online legacy to fate, this is a way to take charge of your online history with instructions for what you want to happen to your virtual self when you die in this life.
- Book: Digital Legacy Plan: Crocker/ McLeod
- Guardian (UK): A Tait: Jun 2/19 What happens to our online identities when we die?
- Walrus: May 29/19: What happens to your social media accounts after you die
- Time: R Greenspan: Apr 30/19: Facebook: your history
- CBC: D Misener: Nov 30/16: tool to delete online presence