Social Media - The Key to Immortality

By Bob Larrivee posted 05-04-2012 09:35


We hear a lot today about how social media is having an impact on our lives. We are now able to share our likes, dislikes, accomplishments and disappointments with friends and family through tools like Facebook that did not even exist until 2004. It is an amazing turn in technology, societal interaction and perhaps even the key to immortality. Think about this for a moment, everything you post, every word you put out there will live on forever. Your presence will be felt through your words and posts long after you are gone. Your legacy locked in time and social media. The question is should it and do you really want this to be?

The United States Government is recommending that those of us using social media include as part of our estate planning and creation of a will, a section reflecting what we would like to happen with our social media presence. Referred to as a Social Media Will, the purpose of this element is to identify an Executor and provide instruction on how you would like your online presence handled when you are no longer able to manage it yourself. Your Executor will be the person who works with your service providers to close down your blogs and remove current postings, close email accounts, and address any additional social media issues that may arise. The suggestion presented on the USA.Gov site is as follows:

  • Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where other users can still see your profile but can’t post anything new.
  • Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  • Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.

In my view, while I am not ready to leave this life, it all makes sense to me. Just as we plan for how our family, estate, creditors and other elements of our life should be handled once we are gone, this is nothing more than an extension of that exercise. In business, we should also put in place a policy as part of our governance program that stipulates actions that will be taken when an employee leaves the organization. What happens to the social media accounts of that individual, if they are business related like LinkedIn and Twitter, and used by this individual to officially represent your company? Who will be responsible to take them over and how would you go about making those changes?  Something to think about, or perhaps you have.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

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