This week I’ve come across two stories relating to social network content and death, which threw up some interesting questions about what we leave behind online after shuffle free of this mortal coil.
The first was an article on Mashable that discussed the various problems that executors and next of kin face when trying to deactivate or preserve the online profiles of the deceased, and offered some very useful advice. Seems reasonable. The second was slightly more morbid.
The Tweet Hereafter is a site that posts the last tweet made by someone before they died. Of course there are many instances of ‘famous last words’ being uttered by many people of note through the years, but I guess the timing of this story isn’t great – the homepage of The Tweet Hereafter shows the ‘Newest Death’ to be that of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead yesterday morning, supposedly by her boyfriend the South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius.
I suppose it satisfies a certain curiousity to know what the last thing someone tweeted was, but is it always interesting? In some cases it might even serve as an eerie prophecy, indicating that their death could have been avoided:
Tru! Thats why I made the First move, Now Dude say He Gone KILL me. Wouldn't be so bad if he ain't (cont) http://t.co/RR8vWhUD— DEANNA COOK (@DIVASEXYDALLAS) August 17, 2012
What both of these news items point out is that there is value to be found in our social data long after we are gone. While we are alive we have the ability to take control of and organise our social data offline so that if we were to suddenly drop dead, those we leave behind are easily able to preserve our digital legacy and look back at the content we spent years creating.
One way of doing this is to use SocialSafe to download your information from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks, creating your own library of you. By having your own copy of this data, you can leave it somewhere safe for your next of kin to deal with it as you wish, rather than them having to negotiate with the social networks for access to your accounts.