Your online identity after you've passed on
How to ensure your Facebook, emails and pictures are accessible to loved ones after you've passed on.
The following is a partial transcript; for full story, listen to audio
Facebook recently began offering memorial pages for website users who have passed away, allowing users to have a digital presence even after they die.
You have to wonder: What happens to all those emails, pictures, and videos you've put on the web when you're no longer there and no one knows your password?
Jeremy Toeman started a company, Legacy Locker, that helps clients keep track of all their online accounts and will inform loved ones of their passwords after they die.
The idea for the company came from a situation involving Toeman's 94-year-old grandmother.
"She was fairly a tech-savvy lady," said Toeman. "She and I emailed, she actually emailed with the entire family, and actually friends literally around the world. She played bridge on Yahoo, she knew what Googling was ... what happened was, she passed away and my father and I tried to get into her Hotmail account ... we quickly realized we weren't getting anywhere. There was just no way in and, it just seemed, no one to contact."
Tech blogger Corvida Raven, from the SheGeeks blog, says everyone should have a plan to pass on access to their online content.
"Myspace's 'deceased policy' is kinda vague, but they won't grant access to your next of kin or delete any of the content from your account. You'd have to do that yourself. But [you] can request that the information be removed if the family feels there's something that needs to be removed from the page ... but for the most part, you're kind of on your own with these sites.
"Facebook will not remove your page either. They'll memorialize your page which will remove any time-sensitive information from it, and allow whoever is a friend of your page to still see it; but at the same time, no one in the future will be able to add friends to that page. It kind of takes away the right for the family to have any type of control over it, so after you die, it passes on to Facebook ... your content doesn't belong to you and it doesn't belong to your family either."
Toeman's company allows clients to create something similar to a will for their digital assets. Clients establish what they want to do with various accounts and content, and the information is given to loved ones after they've passed away.
He says it's not just an ownership issue.
"For my family for example, my wife really doesn't want to see a Jeremy Toeman on Facebook if something happens to me. She just doesn't want to see me in a 'buddies list' or any of those kinds of things ever. For other families it's a totally different story. Some people want to be memorialized online. And part of the value of Legacy Locker and services like ours is to give people the choice to control what would happen in that kind of scenario."
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