For many people today, their Facebook page and their other social media pages play a significant part in the way they project themselves to the world. Thus, it makes sense that one thing individuals may have very strong thoughts about is what will happen with their social media accounts when they pass away. They may want their accounts to simply be shut down when they die. Or perhaps they would rather have their accounts kept up as memorials to their life. They may also have strong opinions about who should be able to access/control the accounts upon their death.
Digital assets, such as social media accounts, are still relatively new things and thus the exact rules regarding what happens with such assets when one dies can be on the hazy and in-flux side. Given this, if a person has strong preferences regarding what should be done with their social media accounts when they die, one thing they may want to do is make it very clear what these preferences are.
One way to do this is to include such preferences in one’s will.
Recently, Facebook gave its users another way to make such preferences clear. Facebook now allows its users to specify within their account settings whether they want their account to be deleted upon their death and whether there is any person in particular they want control of their account to be given to upon death.
What do you think of this new option Facebook has given its users? Do you think after-death settings are something that will become commonplace for social media sites?
This recent addition by Facebook underscores that after-death handling of digital assets is still an evolving area of law where new concerns and options are springing up fairly regularly. Thus, individuals concerned about what will happen with their social media accounts when they die may want to speak with a skilled estate planning attorney about what they should do.
Source: The Boston Globe, “Facebook creates a ‘living will’ for users’ accounts after death,” Janelle Nanos and Hiawatha Bray, Feb. 13, 2015