Is there (virtual) life after death?
Posted by the pensive poet
In the 18 months at least 3 of my Facebook friends died. No, I’m not an old guy living out my days in retirement with the rest of my ‘war-buddies’. My friends didn’t die of old age. We’re of the same age range. And like I said, all of them were on Facebook. I have wondered what happens to one’s virtual life when one’s real life is over. Lately I’ve been wondering more because from time to time my Facebook news feed will have something from this dead friend’s Facebook timeline.
Are these notifications from the afterlife? Not really. It’s just new comments on past posts mostly. Or shared tags from the old photos.
I wondered what would happen to my Facebook account if I died. I should probably make a list of all my social media/ email accounts with my passwords so someone–hopefully someone I trust–can log on these sites and delete my account on my behalf when I’m gone. I wouldn’t want to wander into my friends’ timelines like a… well, like a ghost. Anyway, I have listed the songs that will be played in my funeral. Why not this? i just have to find someone I really trust to leave the list to.
So I got googling and I saw a blog post that gave answers to my question. It said there are 3 choices: (1) to “memorialize” your account, i.e. to turn into a page where people can comment and celebrate your life; (2) or have your account deleted, which isn’t that simple–more on that later; and (3) there’s an application (imaginatively called “If I Die”) which allows you to create a video or a message that will be sent to your friends when you die. Really. I’m curious about this app but I haven’t tried it.
As it turns out, Facebook has its own FAQ on the matter (pictured below). They did some changes on the first option mentioned in the previous paragraph. Now, instead of your timeline being turned into a page, it will just be left as it is. And having your account deleted just got a bit more complicated because whoever you asked to do this for you (your executor) must show proof (birth certificate for family and your will for non-members of your family) that they have the right to ask for your account to be deleted.
However, I think that all these presupposes that Facebook the company knows for a fact that you died. So how are they going to know that? Do they keep tabs on every timeline? What if no one notifies Facebook that you died? Then it would be easy for your executor to log on to your account and have it deleted, right?
I’m not sure if other social media sites are as greedy for users like Facebook.