#FridayHacks: What Happens To Your Social Networking Information When You Die?

According to Forrester Research, an average of 3 billion people across the globe are active on social media sites everyday. Here in Zimbabwe almost 80% of our population owns a social networking account on sites like Facebook, Whatsapp or Twitter.

More people join social networking sites every day. For most users, online networks serve as the primary means of staying in touch with friends and family. Social networking sites allow us to post our thoughts, pictures, videos, music and other content. But what happens to all of that information when we die?

By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi 

It’s a sobering problem. As we invest more of ourselves into our online presence, we become more affected by the things we see and do on the Internet. We also affect our online friends. It might seem like worrying about what happens to your online presence after your death is a trivial matter but it’s becoming more important as time goes on. Because of CyberCrime, a lot of information abuse can occur with more perpetrators flooding the CyberCrime market to steal intellectual property.  

Part of the reason is that the Internet provides a place for people to express thoughts and feelings as they grieve a loss. Your social networking profile could become a spot where your friends and family can share memories of you. People who might not otherwise hear of your passing may learn of it through your profile page.

But maintaining a presence online after you die has its share of problems as well. Mean-spirited people called trolls in the online world might take the opportunity to leave insulting or inflammatory comments on your page just to stir up trouble. Who guards your profile after you’re gone? Can someone request access to your accounts to act as custodian to your online presence?

The answer varies from one site to another. As of yet, there is no law in Zimbabwe or any African country with rules about how to handle an online presence after someone passes away. Each company creates its own policies. Some, like MySpace, do so on a case-by-case basis. Others, like Facebook, establish rules that allow friends and relatives to transform a normal profile into a memorial.

Next, we’ll look at Facebook’s approach to handling the profile of a deceased user.

The battle for relevance continues…follow Shingie Levison Muringi our Technology Research Specialist and Sub Editor on Twitter @ShingieMuringi1, Email [email protected] or direct Cell: 0775 380 652 for all the latest trending technological issues in and outside Zimbabwe.

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