Friday, June 7, 2013

Be prepared: What will happen to your content when you die?

We don't like to think about it, but eventually we're all on a schedule to die (or at very least, become extremely incapacitated).  

If that happens before you're ready--and mostly, that's the case--what happens to all your digital stuff? Your email accounts, social media, and imagery all will become locked-up in everlasting digital limbo.  Unreachable by all, including your family. 

Recently Google announced an "Inactive Account Manager" tool.  Click on that link and you'll be taken to a setup page that will let you determine what happens when you are taken out-of-action.  

Image from Inactive Account Manager.

You can set up a "deadman switch," which triggers if you haven't done anything after a certain amount of time (say, 6 months or 1 year).  When the timeout happens, the system will email or text you to see if you're still responding.  If you're STILL not responding, it will infer that you're not taking care of your data any more and will do what you want. 

Should some of your selected contacts be notified?  It can do that.  (With whatever messages you want sent.)  

Should your accounts be deleted?  It can do that too.  

Here's the truth:  If you're alive and reading this, you probably should go fill out the form.  

I just did.  It only takes a couple of minutes to set it up.

Even though it's a sobering thought, if you don't do it, your family and friends won't be able to get into your accounts and those posts, images, and messages you always meant to send.   

Something to think about.  Here's a nice way to manage your digital afterlife.  


  1. Thanks for the post, Dr. Russell. I just did it, too.

    It is good to know what will happen with our data after us. And, it is not just posts, images and messages, it is our name (like in G+, blogs and be sure that nobody will use it in a wrong way.

  2. Thanks for this information. I am about to update my will and I would never have thought of this being a loose end. Nice to feel I have things organized. This will be the way of the future.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I have thought about this issue as I sometimes get "posts" from my deceased friend's FB account. Didn't know there was a way to take some steps now to determine what will happen to my various accounts.

    Do you mind if we share your post with others?