What happens to your data when you die? [Transcript]

I stumbled across the video below. Its a bit dated [2013] but, still relevant. It reminded me of a podcast I produced last year called, “What happens to your data when you die?” After the video is the transcript from the original podcast and a few resources I’ve found since then. Let me know your thoughts?


Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Okay, now this is interesting. Facebook may eventually have more dead users than living ones. According to a study by Oxford Researchers, Facebook will have 4.9 billion deceased users on its system by the year 2100. If Facebook’s current growth rate continues, the dead would outpace the living by 2070. And this brings to mind, an interesting question… What happens to your data after you die? I’ll share a few insights after this.

Here’s a press release quote from Javelin Strategy & Research

The 2018 Identity Fraud Study released today by Javelin Strategy & Research, revealed that the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent (rising to 16.7 million U.S. consumers) in the last year, a record high since Javelin Strategy & Research began tracking identity fraud in 2003. The study found that despite industry efforts to prevent identity fraud, fraudsters successfully adapted to net 1.3 million more victims in 2017, with the amount stolen rising to $16.8 billion. With the adoption of EMV (embedded chip) cards and terminals, the types of identity fraud continued to shift online and away from physical stores. The complexity of fraud is also on the rise as criminals are opening more new accounts as a means of compromising accounts consumers already have.

As reprehensible as that criminal activity is, there are some who take this practice to a disgusting level of depravity; in a very real sense they hunt the dead. Listen to this TV news report from WZTV Fox 17 in Nashville, TN

I have another example for you, listen to this from ABC 15 Arizona.

With both of those reports, you heard some tips on how to prevent the recently deceased from being victimized by identity thieves but, you’re still alive. What should you be doing now to keep that from happening to you?  Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife” has a lot of tips for you. I’ll share three.

  • Make an inventory of all your digital assets. That includes the documents on your computer, the photos on your phone, any data stored on thumb drives or backup disks, and every online account, including the ones you no longer use. It’s a big job, but you don’t have to do it all at once, Carroll says. Start with the most important things and work your way down the list. Odds are your primary email account will be number one, since that’s typically where online accounts send password resets.
  • Figure out what you want to happen to all of this stuff after you’re gone. Do you want your family to have access to all your emails? How about photos? Videos and other material you’ve downloaded? There may be some things you don’t want your loved ones to see. Decide now, and make your wishes known to those you care about.
  • Assign someone to be your digital executor. Be explicit in your will about what you want to happen to your assets. Don’t assume your survivors automatically have a right to it all, because the law varies greatly from state to state, Carroll says. On his blog, The Digital Beyond, he offers some sample power-of-attorney language to include in your will.

A few more considerations for you…

  • Facebook allows people to make a special request for a deceased person’s account. You can ask to have their Facebook account removed, or to memorialize their account. Facebook will require you to send them a scan of your loved one’s death certificate.
  • It is possible to request that certain imagery be removed from a deceased family member’s Twitter account. Twitter might not remove what you ask them to – based on the newsworthiness of the content. There is a simple form you can fill out to request the deactivation of a deceased person’s Twitter account.
  • Everplans is a secure, digital archive of everything your loved ones will need should something happen to you. It has helpful information about how to create a digital estate plan, how to close accounts after someone has died, how to eliminate all the skeletons in your closet, and more.

Here begins some new information I’ve found since I produced that podcast. If you find it useful, feel free to pass it on.

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