The topic of digital heritage is young and many online service providers have yet to present their policies on it. Some of the heavyweights have, however, already put various options in place for their users to pass on important data or rights to online accounts. We give you an overview below.
If you are a Facebook user, you can assign a so-called "legacy contact". Upon your passing, this person can request the deletion or memorialization of your account. The latter enables your legacy contact to publish a last post on your wall, for example to share a final message on your behalf or post information about a memorial service. They can also update your profile and cover picture. In the case of memorialization, the account proceeds to exist so the legacy contact will have to manage it, including any incoming friend requests. Moreover, you can allow your legacy contact to download a copy of everything you’ve shared on Facebook. Further rights may be added to the legacy role, Facebook states on their help page.
If you are a Twitter user, you cannot do much to plan longterm. Upon the passing of an account owner, Twitter allows for immediate family members or a person authorized to act on behalf of the estate to request an account deletion. To verify their identity, your next of kin must provide Twitter with information about you and your passing away along with ID to prove their relation to you. Access to the account itself is not granted.
LinkedIn also offers to delete the account of a deceased if a person close to the deceased fills out a predefined form including the following information:
- The member's name
- The URL to their LinkedIn profile
- Your relationship to them
- Member's email address
- Date they passed away
- Link to obituary
- Company they most recently worked at
Through the tool “Inactive Account Manager”, Google lets users plan ahead and decide what shall happen to their accounts (Gmail, YouTube etc.) post mortem. This is how it works:
If your account goes inactive for a longer period of time (defined by you as 3, 6, 12 or 18 months), you can instruct Google to delete it or to share your login credentials with pre-chosen individuals.
Otherwise, your next of kin must request an account deletion or transfer of data. Regardless of your relation to the deceased, Google ultimately decided whether data will be passed on or not.
For Outlook.com accounts owners, Microsoft works with a so-called “Next of Kin” process. Through it, you can define your wishes for your Microsoft accounts post mortem, including whether you want Microsoft to send your loved-ones a DVD with the contents of the account.
Upon your passing, your next of kin must request the release of the account contents by sending an email to the Microsoft Custodian of Record at email@example.com with the following information:
- Proof of identity and kinship with the account owner
- Verification that the account owner has passed away
Yahoo enables relatives of deceased account owners to close the account and seize billing of any premium products. It is not possible, however, to get access to the account or have any information from it transferred. To process a request for account deletion, Yahoo ask for:
- a letter containing your request and stating the Yahoo ID of the deceased.
- a copy of a document appointing the requesting party as the personal representative or executor of the estate of the deceased.
- a copy of the death certificate of the Yahoo account holder.
Your alternative data inheritance solution
The process of setting up a digital heritance strategy for each of your personal online accounts is not only complex, it’s time consuming and cumbersome. SecureSafe offers you an alternative: Gather all of your essential passwords and files in one highly secure place, then set up our unique data inheritance feature.
As a SecureSafe account owner, you can define beneficiaries such as loved ones or business partners and pass on important files or passwords to them post mortem. The transfer of data happens automatically and safely through an activation code, which you provide to a trusted person close to you.