What is a Digital Afterlife? And Why It Matters

Whenever we use the internet for banking, shopping, sending emails, socializing with family, or even catching up on the latest news, we leave a digital footprint. Companies often store our data to make it easier to login, get birthday reminders, and even send advertisements catered to your specific likes and interests.

But unless managed correctly, that same digital footprint can remain active long after you’re gone, creating what’s sometimes known as a digital afterlife. Now, while this may seem harmless at first, some serious ethics conversations are currently happening all around the world as we figure out how best to analyze and manage our digital presence online.

Here at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Funeral Home we share some thoughts and ideas that may be helpful when considering how to best manage your digital afterlife.

Why Should I Care About My Digital Afterlife?

The US is still debating how best to develop a satisfactory regulatory code that protects our digital data after we die. Right now, many companies are continuing to gather a person’s photos, mannerisms, browsing data and other digital information without robust protections in place. In caring about your digital afterlife it is important to consider what these companies do with this information after you are gone.

Consider how you would feel if companies recreated your persona for advertising? Or what would your family might think if holograms were made in your likeness long after you’re gone? While these ideas may have once seemed far-fetched or like science fiction, we are much closer to those ideas than we are from them.

Two Ideas to Help Secure Your Digital Afterlife

Make a Digital Legacy Plan

A digital legacy plan can help to ensure that your family will handle your accounts according to your wishes. You might help them by gathering essential information about all of your digital assets, including:

  • Your legal will that includes details of an executor responsible for handling or deleting your digital footprint
  • A record of any important websites or social media sites you visit, with login information for each one
  • Instructions on accessing your digital accounts with specific instructions for each one

Use a Free Password Manager

Password managers can help to store your login and password information from websites, applications and programs. They can be effective with everything from news subscriptions to banking and email accounts. Using just one master password, a password manager can:

  • Provide random and unique password generation for your accounts
  • Store and retrieve passwords created and for accounts as you visit them
  • Help you to login to all of your accounts from any of your devices
  • Alert you to potentially compromised passwords

Password managers can help to make managing your digital afterlife much easier. But because password managers store their information as encrypted, your executor will need that one master password access to bypass any necessary verification processes.

Check if your smartphone or computer already has a password manager. If not, you can sign up for one for free and get started securing your digital afterlife today.

Securing Your Digital Afterlife Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

While US policy evolves to better protect and assist us regarding our digital afterlife, it’s up to each of us to beinterested and proactive about what happens to our data after we have passed. By taking even the few steps above you can help ease the burden on family and loved ones and secure your digital legacy.

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts on protecting your digital afterlife, we hope you found it helpful. At Hollywood Forever, we want to help you make the best decisions for you and your family to celebrate the memory of a life lived. If you have any questions about any of our services please contact us.

Sources:

  1. European Commission. (2020). EU data protection rules. Europa. https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/eu-data-protection-rules_en

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