Updating your social will

I spotted a couple of things on the weekend that I thought were worth sharing.  First up I was looking for a friend of mine in LinkedIn, only to find him twice.  His older profile was attached to his email address at a former employer.  It appears he had forgotten his original LinkedIn password and could no longer get into that profile to reset it (since the reset email went to a corporate address he could no longer get to).  So he had abandoned that profile and started again.     I found a thread about this here in case you are suffering from the same issue.

Later by chance I spotted something else that was much more thought-provoking.  One of my work colleagues sadly passed away last year, but her profile is still in LinkedIn.  Again the email address attached to that profile is her corporate address.   I am unsure whether her family know about her presence on LinkedIn, but it certainly got me thinking.

If your life in the real world involves representing yourself in the digital world (which is almost certain if you’re reading this blog post), then you should think about ensuring that when you are no longer with us, that your loved ones have a way to bring closure to your digital profiles. Would they  know what you wanted them to do?  Are they able to act even if they did know? I suspect not.

What I suggest you do is three things:

  1. Document what you want done with your digital profiles, ideally placing this in your will.   This will give your executor the power to act on your behalf.
  2. Document a way to access these profiles.   Whether this means having passwords recorded somewhere or whether you use a common email address that someone can access if password resets are needed to get to your accounts.  Either way, they need to be able to logon.  Don’t trust on calling Facebook or LinkedIn to get help.  I suspect that could prove difficult.
  3. Do not use your corporate email address for any of your digital profiles.  If you suddenly leave an employer, or worse, suddenly pass away, the first thing your employer will do is shutdown your email account.   A family member would probably have no hope of accessing it anyway.  So changing to a private email address is a good idea regardless.  It will prevent issues resetting profile passwords or an orphaned LinkedIn profile that you can no longer get to.   If you do nothing else after reading this post, at least do this.

If all of this sounds morbid, it probably is.  But it is also critical that you do it.

For more details, check out this newspaper article which documents this quite well.

If you have any suggestions I would really like to hear them.

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About Anthony Vandewerdt

I am an IT Professional who lives and works in Melbourne Australia. This blog is totally my own work. It does not represent the views of any corporation. Constructive and useful comments are very very welcome.
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6 Responses to Updating your social will

  1. Roger The Viking :-) says:

    This has been an issue for some years now and its companys providing this as a service, like http://legacylocker.com/ and http://www.deathswitch.com/. It was a Swedish one as well http://www.mywebwill.com/, but it has died off.

  2. MrOdysseus says:

    Didn’t even consider it. I’ll have to set something up..Our time will be at some point!

  3. Sameed says:

    Quite a coincidence that I see this article! I recently had to close accounts for a loved one who passed away. And it’s important that you get access to the main email address. Gmail offers you the option to tie down your email with a phone number. So it would be easier for someone to reset your password and close all the web profiles if needed. Another good idea is to link various email addresses as each others backups, so you can reset the other accounts from getting access to one.

  4. An online friend passed away a few years ago, and I only found out because I had her address and part of her real name from selling her a hard drive years ago. Since then, my son has had a list of all of the chats, message boards, and social networking sites I use, plus email addresses of a few people from each, in case something happens to me. I think if you spend a lot of time online, that’s also an important aspect to a social will. I’m going to update it and give him a printout, plus I’ll leave one with my important papers.

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