Managing Our Digital Legacy – Facebook and “Legacy Contacts”
What do we want our families and friends to know about us after we die? Besides leaving our heirs money and valued objects, there is another legacy that we leave, albeit sometimes without realizing the importance of the ‘digital legacy’.
An update was sent from the great folks at The Digital Beyond, the website group that keeps us up to date about developments of digital technology. This is the quote from their email of Feb. 12, 2015: “Today Facebook released new functionality to address how profiles are handled after an account holder’s death. The new feature, called Legacy Contacts, allows users to specify in advance a caretaker for their account once they pass away.” Apparently, Facebook is on the forefront of taking our digital ‘inheritance’ very seriously.
I have previously written about how our “digital legacy” (Taking Stock of Your Digital Data blog post) can follow us ‘beyond the grave’ and some of the legal implications of that legacy. As technology advances, it is becoming more important to address the issues of what you want done with your digital information and who will be the caretaker/executor of that information. For example, most people have photos, data, contacts,numerous financial accounts, not to mention copies of personal emails saved on their computers and iphones. What happens to that ‘legacy’ upon death is becoming of increasing relevancy in the digital information age and who do we trust to take care of that information are important questions.
Again, quoting from The Digital Beyond article: “Once a profile is memorialized via Facebook’s existing process, a Legacy Contact is granted tools to help them manage the memorialized profile. This release marks the first change in Facebook’s memorialized profiles since last February.”
The term “memorialized profile” is an excellent summation of the digital legacy: what do we want our heirs to remember about us, and how do we achieve the passing of this legacy? Digital memories also offer significant opportunities for individuals to “memorialize” their beliefs and ethics to future generations and could be included in the legacy planning process. I predict that increasingly children and grandchildren will be receiving their ‘legacy’ in digital format.
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