Laying to Rest One’s Digital Footprint

Times have changed and with it the way we all now interact with each other. The advent of social media and digital technology has allowed us to interact with the social world in wonderful ways. Our posts, tweets, status updates, pictures now touch people that only 15 years ago we would not have believed. Our natural web of connections has grown and with it the digital footprint of our thoughts. We are all authors and publishers now and with that comes a little complexity when we pass on.

Getting the timing right for when to deal with the digital footprint, especially social media, of a recently bereaved can be tricky. Too soon and the risk is causing more grief but then leaving it too long and it can look neglectful.

People’s social profiles now need to be treated in the same way as everything else in the person’s estate. They are living breathing entities, to some on a par with physical possessions and family consensus on how to deal with them is important. Decisions need to be made as whether to delete them, memorialise them or leave them as is but they should not be expressly ignored. As these platforms are proactive, birthday announcements, anniversaries, friend and connection suggestions can live and act for years and cause unintended distress.

Most social media companies are now aware of the impact of people passing and have enacted options to deal with it. Facebook for example offers 3 ways of handing the account: Deleting, Memorialising and Legacy Accounts. Most have clear and defined process of how to contact them and handle the process, though some are better than others. Other accounts to consider are: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat.

So what are the options and what to do?

  1. Pull together a definitive list of the digital footprint your loved one had. This may not be immediately clear, offers a list for starters. Your friends and family may also help complete the list.
  2. Decide with the appropriate group of people (example family members) on how you would like to handle each and every account.
  3. Begin the process of then contacting each one on the list and documenting to them your intended wishes, else contact us and we will contact the relevant organisations and bodies and carry out your wishes.
  4. Follow up after a couple weeks to confirm that the requested changes have taken place, if you are dealing with the organisations directly. If it is through us, we will keep you regularly updated on progress and status.