Do you use e-mail? Have you ever bought anything online? Do you use any of the social networking sites, like Facebook or Twitter?
Have you ever thought about what becomes of your cyberspace world after you die? It’s definitely worth thinking about.
At last weekend’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, Jesse Davis of Madison, Wis., gave a presentation entitled “People Die, Profiles Don’t.” In his presentation, Davis pointed out that a staggering 285,000 Facebook users are expected to die in 2010 alone. Davis points out that many of a person’s online accounts are real assets, worthy of protection through wills, trusts or other legacy sharing methods.
Although he’s just 22 years old, Davis estimates that he has 116 online accounts of various types. He divides online assets into three categories: those that have an economic value, those that have sentimental value and private accounts. Given the proliferation of a person’s personal history in cyberspace, Davis points out that it will soon be impossible for anyone to run for public office unfettered by unrecorded past transgressions.
There are other implications as well. Davis cites the case of Justin Ellsworth, a United States Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2004. His parents went to court to get access to their son’s Yahoo e-mail account in a case that did little to resolve the matter of personal privacy.
In order to bridge the gap between current legacy planning and the still-emerging complications caused by cyberspace, Davis has launched a company called Entrustet. A visit to his web site will prove instructive as you navigate these murky waters.
Writing prompt of the day: What have you done to take control of your cyberspace legacy?
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian and legacy planner who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.