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Our digital footprint after we die





watersoul
Google has recently announced an Inactive Account Manager service which will notify and donate digital assets to a nominated person in the event of inactivity for a prescribed amount of time. The idea is that if you die/disappear/whatever then access and ownership of posts/music/video/files/etc can be easily passed to the person you named.

I have posted thousands of comments, pictures and opinions over the years on various forums and other social media since first getting online way back in 1996. Mostly semi-anonymously, as here on Frihost, but also openly as myself on Facebook.
I say semi-anonymously as to be fair, I've given out enough information that it wouldn't be too difficult to track me down if anyone with enough skills or effort wanted to Shocked

Anyway, although I don't expect to die soon, it will come one day, as happened to member vrythramax a couple of years ago now.
With this in mind, I have a letter amongst my 'life documents' which has the usernames and passwords for all my accounts in the digital world. This is updated as I change passwords regularly.
I recently told my mid-teen son about 'watersoul' on Frihost, and we've had more than a few interesting and funny conversations since he's started investigating my opinionated postings here. It is a digital record of the way I think about stuff and why, and I'm always honest in my postings so I am happy for him to gain this extra insight into my thoughts.

In the event that I am unexpectedly eaten by a shark or whatever, when my loved ones go through my stuff they will find this letter and gain access to my entire digital life including email accounts.
My hopes are that they will learn as much as there is to learn about me as a person, and also do me a favour by posting any goodbye's from me in places such as Frihost.

I know we all like to think we'll live forever but none of us know when that shark will attack, so this is just a brief outline of my own personal plan.
Anyone considered such things or planned similar? All thoughts welcome.
deanhills
I'd prefer my accounts, particularly my e-mail accounts, to just disappear eventually though. Not that I have anything to hide, but I doubt any one else would be that interested. But yes, the point you made about people knowing you've passed on in the Forums we are participating in is a valid one. I probably should at least get someone to pass on information like that.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
I'd prefer my accounts, particularly my e-mail accounts, to just disappear eventually though.
Ah, there are loads of loose ends which would need to be tied up after I get hit by a bus, access details for domains and server space where websites are hosted for various friends, plus contacts who my immediate circle of 'real' life friends may not know.

I'm more than happy for such things to be available after I go, it would be no different to a couple of decades ago when people go through a deceased persons stuff and find diaries, journals, letters, documents and the like. Without account/usernames and passwords the people left behind have no way to access our modern digital documentation.
deanhills
I'm way behind you Watersoul. This may be a little shocking, but I don't have a will, so maybe when I draw one up one day I'll definitely think about my digital life as well.
watersoul
I only got a will after I became a dad, but that just covers tangiable things which I own.
As our lives are becoming much more involved in a digital world I realised that an 'add on' letter would be useful for those left behind to access this part of 'watersoul's world'.

As I said, I don't expect to be eaten by a tiger or anything soon, but it is a plan I've put in place ready for such an event.

It would be interesting to see the comments from some digital places after my death, I know I'm really hated badly in some, especially a white supremacist forum where I regularly argue against uneducated vile bigots. I keep my identity well locked down there though and only access it via a VPN Shocked
standready
Ok watersoul make up your mind - shark, bus or tiger? (sorry, a bit of humor to lighten it up)
My family would not care enough to contact my digital world about my demise just as they don't care about me while I am alive. Sad truth that I have only recently realized. Working on change my trust to reflect this.
Radar
It does get interesting when you start thinking about how your relatives would close off all your digital loose ends, and simultaneously trying to balance that against security concerns.

No idea what a good balance of those things is.
spinout
I think the digital footprint is a gold mine. I have some dead pals and the memory come alive when I look at youtube!
watersoul
standready wrote:
Ok watersoul make up your mind - shark, bus or tiger? (sorry, a bit of humor to lighten it up)
My family would not care enough to contact my digital world about my demise just as they don't care about me while I am alive. Sad truth that I have only recently realized. Working on change my trust to reflect this.
Hmm, that's a tricky one, I think hit by the bus would be quicker so given the choice I'd go with that Laughing
Sorry to hear about your family story, I don't think any are perfect, they just pretend to be in public.
I'm executor of my mothers estate when she dies, and one of my close relatives doesn't realise that a large sum of money they borrowed off her without paying back is written down as a deduction from their inheritance. I've got the fun job of breaking that news, I expect sparks.

Radar wrote:
It does get interesting when you start thinking about how your relatives would close off all your digital loose ends, and simultaneously trying to balance that against security concerns.

No idea what a good balance of those things is.
My letter is only as safe as other important documents, passport, and such like. I've wondered a few times about a more secure solution but so far this is the best I can come up with. If you have any better/unusual ideas, I'd be interested in considering them.

spinout wrote:
I think the digital footprint is a gold mine. I have some dead pals and the memory come alive when I look at youtube!
I have lost a couple of 'real' life friends as well and often find comforting memories in their digital footprints Smile
coolclay
As technology "takes over" more of our lives I expect this trend to continue. A few friends that have passed continued to have facebook and myspace pages for long after they left this Earth. They sort of became nice tribute walls to honor them. I never really thought of online writings, and information. There has got to be some business out there that can amass and download all online writings and info. If there isn't yet I am sure it will be a thriving business for years to come!
watersoul
I wish I had the knowledge to create something like that.
Some sort of encrypted account with plugins for the major social media platforms, plus the ability to trawl and capture posts by nominated usernames on forums etc.

There are plenty of skilled coders here on Frihost, it could be an interesting opportunity for a relatively new business model, or at the very least an idea for a developer project?

I would imagine some government secret services have a similar data capture system already in place though Wink
deanhills
coolclay wrote:
As technology "takes over" more of our lives I expect this trend to continue. A few friends that have passed continued to have facebook and myspace pages for long after they left this Earth. They sort of became nice tribute walls to honor them. I never really thought of online writings, and information. There has got to be some business out there that can amass and download all online writings and info. If there isn't yet I am sure it will be a thriving business for years to come!
I'm almost certain Google must be working on a project like that already. Seems to be right up their street. Twisted Evil
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
I'm almost certain Google must be working on a project like that already. Seems to be right up their street. Twisted Evil
It would then be able to include the information not held on their own servers with the service I mentioned in the OP.
Google has access (illegally or otherwise) to loads about me, but so do ISP's, hosting companies, and any other business which carries or stores data for us, email etc.
It is the way of the world unless we all start encrypting everything as a matter of course.
deanhills
[quote="watersoul"]
deanhills wrote:

Google has access (illegally or otherwise) to loads about me, but so do ISP's, hosting companies, and any other business which carries or stores data for us, email etc.
It is the way of the world unless we all start encrypting everything as a matter of course.
Right. But Google being the mega giant it has become, has probably greater access over a wider field and more sophisticated tools to bring it all together.
watersoul
Quote:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
http://www.google.com/about/company/

Says it all really, just a question of intent after that.
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
Quote:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
http://www.google.com/about/company/

Says it all really, just a question of intent after that.
True. And if Google doesn't do it, someone else will. Any way, Google seems to be making inroads with me after years of resistance. I moved from Yahoo search engine to Google a few months ago. The offsetting positive of being able to search DEEPLY is that its search engine is by FAR the best. Hence why I'm thinking it probably has the best chance of achieving a "data gathering" mission. Could be on an up-front profitable basis as well on a strictly confidential basis. Register for data collection and fill in a form with e-mail addresses.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
watersoul wrote:
Quote:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
http://www.google.com/about/company/

Says it all really, just a question of intent after that.
True. And if Google doesn't do it, someone else will. Any way, Google seems to be making inroads with me after years of resistance. I moved from Yahoo search engine to Google a few months ago. The offsetting positive of being able to search DEEPLY is that its search engine is by FAR the best. Hence why I'm thinking it probably has the best chance of achieving a "data gathering" mission.
I assume such things about any data carrier, and although I'm pretty open about my thoughts and life online, there is a 'non-digital' watersoul, with many trusted real world friends of over 20 years.
For anything deeply personal or sensitive, my 'private' social media chat, email, SMS, or phone calls will only ever go as far as 'need to see you, explain then'.
There remains a 'real' life to me involving private business which I guard strongly. I perceive it to be the most important me.

Quote:
Could be on an up-front profitable basis as well on a strictly confidential basis. Register for data collection and fill in a form with e-mail addresses.
It will come for sure, digital communication is a tool which is easily exploitable and therefore potentially profitable.
I adapt to any new technology as it develops, but with Google Glass type developments then even face to face discussions may be more difficult to have privately with many people one day.

*Edit*
I would love my real world friends to have access to my digital expressions which were saved before death though.
They would chuckle, knowing their own personal stories which can relate to my writings Smile
jazzman
Wow! How on earth do you keep track of all your accounts? and if you do, how do you keep it updated on a regular basis, especially if you are changing passwords and such? A lot of overhead in my opinion.
sark
... I never really considered what would happen if I die. Maybe I would just do nothing, and leave everything I did on the Internet dying.
grofet
Leaving useful things, useful knowledge, and good children grand children enough for me. No need to be wellknown by others. After that i will resurected on the other world / realm by god.
deanhills
I really don't like Facebook, but last night thought to try out an account, and after that experience dislike it even more than before. Any way, while I was clicking through all of its features I came across this page about memorializing accounts and it made me think of this thread. Not sure whether you could get to this page with this link, but it's in the Help Center under Deactivating, Deleting & Memorializing Accounts.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
I really don't like Facebook, but last night thought to try out an account, and after that experience dislike it even more than before. Any way, while I was clicking through all of its features I came across this page about memorializing accounts and it made me think of this thread. Not sure whether you could get to this page with this link, but it's in the Help Center under Deactivating, Deleting & Memorializing Accounts.
Link works fine, it's good that Facebook offers such an option though, even if such social media is not your cup of tea.
deanhills
Right. But I don't think I'll be leaving much of a footprint there. The footprints I've made yet have been with Frihost.
playfungames
It is a smart thing that you keep a list of your accounts and other online info in a letter. May be I should start doing it as well so that the online places I go to will know that I am no longer there because death came for me.
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