Social media services tackle what to do when a user dies

Nicole Lafond Contributor
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Rest in peace: Many social media services now have systematic plans for what happens to accounts after a users’ death.

Google recently joined other social media services in efforts to establish a system for what happens to users’ accounts after they die. The fate of these various accounts, such as email, Facebook and Twitter, has been a question in the tech world for some time now, ABC News reports.

Six states in the U.S. have established legislation regulating ownership of a person’s digital presence after they die. However, five of these states only have legislation concerning email accounts and not social networking accounts.

Google announced their after-death plan on Thursday: Users now have control over whether or not they want to share the information in their Google services, such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google+, etc., with family or friends after they pass away, or if they want to have their account delete itself.

Google will not have to be informed of a users’ death; rather they will now use inactivity as a means of measurement. Users can set their preferred time of inactivity. If a user does not log into their account after the previously set time period, the account will either delete itself, or all of the data stored in the users’ services will be sent to 10 previously selected contacts.

A text message or email alert will be sent before the service either shares the data or self-destructs so that living, inactive users’ accounts will not be compromised.

Facebook and Twitter have recently taken a different approach to the usage of their services after a users’ death. A Facebook application called “ifidie” allows users to create a message before death, to send out to family and friends when they die, ABC News reported.

Application users must choose three people to serve as “trustees” in the event of their death. These people will be responsible for confirming the death of the user. Users can create video or text messages to send to previously established contacts.

Twitter has developed a similar service called _LivesOn that tweets for users after they pass away. The service must be downloaded before death, as it will analyze user tweets and identify things the user likes while they are still alive.

Users can also train the service by providing feedback about things they like. The creator of the service, Dave Bedwood, told ABC News it hoped the system would eventually be able to “imitate” the way users talk.

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