The Digital Afterlife: Facebook After Death

Your tweets, your Facebook interfaces, those blog posts, the Youtube antics .. can take on a life of their own, even when your own life has .. well .. taken off. Your loved ones may be shut out and devastated or you may keep popping up at inopportune moments. Today, we're talking about the problems and perils of Virtual Life after Tangible Death.

Part Two of The Current

The Digital Afterlife: Facebook After Death - Samantha Collier

Connecting with friends on Facebook, networking on LinkedIn, years of correspondence archived in E-Mail accounts. Our online lives expand daily. And that stuff doesn't terminate when we do. Facebook will have an estimated one billion users this summer. With that many people, an estimated three Facebook account users will die every minute.

Last year alone, nearly two million accounts featured photos of users smiling from beyond the grave. Several U.S. states are considering legislation to give grieving relatives legal possession of personal online profiles. The push comes from a growing number of people grappling with how to deal with a loved one's digital legacy.

Here in Canada, Samantha Collier was faced with this predicament after her husband died. She's a social media consultant who runs a blog called Social Media for Law Firms. Samantha Collier was in Vancouver.

The Digital Afterlife: Facebook After Death - Senator Burke Harr

Samantha Collier isn't the only person to be unsettled by internet ghosts. Steve Dotto is a Vancouver radio host who found out that a former colleague, Dave, had died when he received a Facebook friend-request from Dave's account sent by his parents.

The BBC spoke to Melissa Bonifas in Blue Hill, Nebraska, about her experience confronting death online. Her sister Jana was very active on Facebook before she was killed in an accident about two years ago. At first her profile page was a nice tribute, but now not so much.

Nebraska, is now one of a handful of states moving to pass a digital-assets law.
Burke Harr is a state Senator from Nebraska. He's pushing legislation that would place personal representations of estates, family members or friends in charge of the digital accounts of deceased relatives. He was in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Digital Afterlife: Facebook After Death - Adele McAlear

How prepared are you for a final logging out? Does your spouse or partner know your passwords? Adele McAlear is a marketing consultant in Montreal who does a lot of work on death and social media. She believes people need to be more aware of what happens to their online legacy. Adele McAlear was in our studio in Montreal.

This half-hour segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Josh Bloch.

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