Social Media – When the Person Dies and the Account Lives On

As business owner of Anglia Counselling, and innovative creator of the In Case of Emergency (ICE), I’m a keen social media player. Here I examine a contentious Twitter App whilst considering a solution to a growing issue. What happens to your social media account when you are no longer around? 

In 2013, LivesOn were a company planning to launch a service intended to Tweet on your behalf following your demise. The software analyses users’ Twitter feeds to learn their likes, tastes, and syntax – so it can continue to post on your behalf after demise. It’s not the first, with the platform Deadsoci.al, launched in 2012 that allows users to preload messages and updates to be posted after your death.

My Experience

Almost three years ago, one of my social media connections died suddenly in a tragic accident. A year passed and this connection and her lovely image still appeared in my social media platforms as ‘someone like me‘, or ‘who to follow’ – and so on!

The feelings I had about this were mixed; on the one hand, I wanted to remember them, be reminded of them on occasion. On the other hand, I was upset, and left wondering where the responsibility lay with closing her social media accounts, and if that’s what her loved one’s wished! What did they want?

[bctt tweet=” Respecting the wishes, respecting those left behind. #smap” username=”BobBrotchie”]

#SMAP – Social Media Appointed Person

Reflecting on this again, I thought of a potential opportunity to manage this in future by offering and sharing a planned response that will reduce some of the pain for similar situations in the future:

  • SM Account Holder = Who in advance of their sudden, unexpected death – provided an advanced directive around whether to keep SM accounts ‘open’ – where permissible; or where all, or selected accounts are to be closed.
  • NOK = is an agreed facilitator and who may accept contact from the AP – where agreed – for the purposes of the AP providing support in regards to the deceased’s social media ‘estate’. The Next-Of-Kin (NOK) will have been made aware of the wishes expressed by the SM account holder, whether accounts are to be closed, etc.
  • AP = Appointed Person has agreed to be the facilitator at the behest of the SM accounts holder. The AP has agreed to exchange email and phone contact details and share copies of the advanced wishes. The AP will act only on the NOK’s wishes regardless of whether they are outside of the SM accounts holders wishes, except where challenged in law.

As with my ICE program, ideas that empower (are cost-neutral to implement and that encourages the facilitator to choose) is, in my opinion, critical.

There are number of similar options being offered and often attached to the services provided to maintain your presence when you no longer physically exist. However, these are all well and good if you wish to continue on in some way after your life has ended, but what if you don’t, and even more importantly, who knows when your time will be up?  What you pre-plan today for your messages will be outdated either when you die, or will become so.

What are your thoughts? Will you LIKE or Tweet after your demise? Will you organise arrangements so your social media accounts can be managed, be that closed or maintained?

Finally, will you know or are prepared to accept the responsibility to contact all the social media platforms to notify the fact of death and all that goes with that?

References:

This is what happens to your social media accounts when you die – Mirror April 2016

What happens to your social media accounts after you die? – Digital Trends May 2016

This site lets you control your social media profiles after you’ve died – Business Insider May 2016

About the author
Bob Brotchie

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, life coach and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

Social Media – When the Person Dies and the Account Lives On

by Bob Brotchie time to read: 3 min
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