Digital Mortality: Posthumous Social Media

What if I post this, walk outside, and get crushed by a giant anvil falling from the sky? My Tumblr account will have automatically pushed content to Twitter and Facebook and there is a possibility that retweeting and comments may continue unmoderated.

My face might keep popping up in the sidebars of Facebook and Linked In as a suggested connection for acquaintances long after I am flat as a pancake. Not many people have planned for their digital demise accordingly and  social media passwords usually live only in the head of the content creator.

This excellent article in the New York Times considers the issue of posthumous posts in great detail. Many people treat blogs and status updates like a journal or diary and email correspondence like a bunch of letters tied with a ribbon. Without the physical artifacts of the past to commemorate a person’s presence, their digital legacy is largely inaccessible and cannot be preserved and archived in memorial.

Some companies are springing up designed to ameliorate this issue. In the meantime, I would suggest documenting your passwords and account names in some manner or at least discussing your preference for password creation with your next of kin. If they are aware of your penchant for using the name of your first pet and your birthday or simply the word ‘Bosco,’, they may have a chance to log in to close your account or to migrate the content to a new repository for posterity.


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