There are many things you have to think about when preparing the legacy you wish to leave behind. You want to make sure your family understands who you are and what was important to you and take care that the instructions for the disposition of your property are in order. Well, to those instructions you need to add another element: naming a digital heir.
Recently Facebook changed its policy. Previously, once they found out a member had passed away, Facebook froze the account in a process they call “memorialization.” Now, however, members can designate a “legacy contact” who will have the ability to manage the account after the holder dies. And while Facebook may be, at least as of now, the biggest social media platform, they are not the only one to address the issue of managing the accounts of members who have died. In 2013 Google began to allow users to name digital heirs, calling them “inactive account managers.”
So why is this important? It represents an acknowledgement by social media platforms that who you are, and who you were, will live on not only in the memories of friends and loved ones, but also in the digital realm. Because of the permanent nature of digital footprints, after you die what you posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and all the social media platforms yet to be developed becomes an immediate, indelible representation of who you were in life.
Someone needs to be the custodian of that footprint. And like other legacies that an individual has established throughout his or her lifetime—family, career milestones and philanthropic interests—a digital presence needs attention with an eye towards how it will be perceived when you are no longer there to explain.
Take Away: To all the steps you need to take to cultivate your legacy, add appointing a digital heir.