Legacy Tip #1: Plan what happens to your Facebook Data and Profile

facebook_legacy_memorialisation_friends_change_digital_afterlifeFor anyone located in the US, Facebook has introduced Legacy Contact, a set of features that allow a user to nominate a friend to manage their account, albeit in a more restricted way, after they die. A Legacy Contact is able to update profile photos or add new friends and family contacts in memory of and on behalf of their deceased friend. Importantly, a user can also indicate whether or not they’d like a copy of their Facebook data to be downloaded by their assigned contact or alternatively instruct Facebook to delete their account after their death.

For everyone else, Facebook memorialisation is an option but this process can pose issues as guest blogger Nicole Wright points out. Here are some thoughts on how to preserve your personal history and avoid it from being lost or locked into the social networking site, so you can reminisce over fond memories in years from now and also share these with your loved ones when your time comes.

Think about your digital assets as you plan your will

Would you like your Facebook account to be deleted? Would you like your family to decide? Will issues around what happens to your Facebook likely cause arguments between your surviving relatives? If the latter is realistic, you may want to provide guidance.

Assign someone to be your digital executor and let that person know what your wishes are. At the same time, discuss these with other next of kin or family members who will benefit from being informed of your digital plan.

You could also include instructions relating to your digital estate as part of your will planning process. Damin Murdock, Principal Lawyer of the MurdockCheng Legal Practice based in Sydney suggests that when writing up a will, individuals remove any ambiguity about how they want their digital information dealt with upon their death.

“Next time you see a lawyer to update your Will, you should ask that lawyer to help you with your digital accounts, usernames and passwords. They can also work with you to provide for all intellectual property rights contained in each asset to be transferred to the respective beneficiary. Lastly, you can waive your rights to privacy so your Executor can gain access to your accounts and deal with them in accordance with your wishes (if this is what you really want).”

It’s best not to include a summary of your accounts and their access details directly in a will however. Once a Last Will and Testament is filed for probate within the appropriate state, it becomes a public document as does any codicil attached to a will.

For security and practical reasons, Paul Gordon, Associate at Finlaysons says that “he would recommend that this be given as a separate document to your lawyers for many reasons, including the fact that every time you changed your passwords, or added a new one, you would have to change the will!”

Keep your personal digital data stored elsewhere other than Facebook

Avoid using Facebook as your primary means of archiving your digital information. Items such as photos, videos and important correspondence should be backed up and accessible on a hard drive or alternatively with a digital afterlife service that specifically manages documents and personal information, assigning these to nominated next of kin or other contacts after a user’s death.

You can also convey instructions on who you nominate to inherit or receive a copy of these archived digital assets such as video, photos or other online information as part of your will planning process.

Look at other ways of preserving your Facebook memories

There’s a plethora of services that you can use to capture wall messages, photos and your Facebook history so you can download these to print into different formats, such as coffee table books. A couple of options include…

Memeoirs – from €40 for paperback

Memeoirs lets you choose conversations from Facebook, WhatsApp or email (including from Gmail, Outlook.com/Hotmail/Outlook client) and have these published in a published book format. You select the conversations you want included in the book by person and/or timeframe.

Currently, only images included in a WhatsApp conversation can accompany the messages. There are several customisable aspects. For instance, you select the images and descriptions that you want included on the front and back covers.

Prices start from €40 for a paperback or €60 for a hard copy book. Postage is free if you ask for standard mail (even for international) although you can book Fedex shipping for a flat fee of €20.


Example of what’s included in MySocialBook – photos, wall messages etc.

MySocialBook for Facebook – From US$19.90

With MySocialBook, you can build and create a book made up of your Facebook memories by selecting a date range and the type of content that you want included. While it won’t include Facebook private messages, you can opt to include your status and wall updates as well as any friend conversations that they encourage. As with Memeoirs, you can customise the front and back covers of your book.






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