How to preserve your digital legacy

What happens to your social media accounts and digital legacy after you pass away? Here are some steps you can take today to secure your accounts and passwords.

Published - December 19, 2023 10:41 am IST

Social media platforms like Meta’s Facebook offer a Legacy Contact option. 

Social media platforms like Meta’s Facebook offer a Legacy Contact option.  | Photo Credit: REUTERS

In the digital age, our online lives will exist long after even we are gone. The virtual footprint we leave behind can pose challenges for our loved ones, but there are steps we can take to ensure the smooth transition of our digital affairs, such as our accounts and passwords.

Social media platforms like Meta’s Facebook offer a Legacy Contact option. By memorialising your profile, designated individuals can manage certain aspects of your account, including responding to friend requests and updating profile information.

Instagram, unfortunately, lacks pre-death preparations, requiring loved ones to request the conservation or removal of the deceased’s account.

X (formerly Twitter) follows a similar pattern, accepting requests only from verified family members or authorised estate representatives. The process involves submitting details such as a personal ID and a copy of the death certificate. However, the efficiency of X’s response remains uncertain since its takeover by Elon Musk.

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Google’s Inactive Account Manager provides a proactive approach, allowing users to share data or notify trusted contacts in case of inactivity. Gmail users can set an auto-reply message informing contacts of the account’s status.

Apple’s Digital Legacy program allows users to designate Legacy Contacts who can access specified data after their passing. This feature is available for devices running iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, and macOS 12.1 or above, with two-factor authentication activated.

The importance of password security cannot be overstated. While utilising a top-rated password manager is a wise move, it is equally essential to think beyond one’s demise. Several password managers, such as Bitwarden, offer emergency access features, allowing users to designate trusted contacts who can gain access to their digital vaults in times of need. Dashlane provides a unique solution with a secure Dash file that can be shared immediately or stored on a USB drive for future access, though manual updates are required.

1Password, while lacking a specific mechanism for passing on accounts, facilitates the sharing of confidential information through its Families Plan. By inviting individuals into designated vaults, users can control access to personal logins, secure notes, credit cards, and more.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods add an extra layer of security but can complicate matters after someone passes away. Generating and securely storing MFA backup codes, along with sharing device passcodes, can alleviate the authentication process for loved ones.

To ensure an organised approach to digital afterlife, consider creating a digital will. This document should outline instructions for managing various online accounts, gaining access to password-protected platforms, and inheriting digital assets, including cryptocurrency.

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