What is a digital legacy?

"What is a digital legacy and how can I make plans for it"

A digital legacy is the digital information that is available about someone following their death. Someone’s digital legacy is often shaped by interactions the person made and information that they created before they died. This might include their social media profiles, online conversations, photos, videos, gaming profiles and their website or blog. 

Someone’s digital legacy can also be informed by content that is created or co-created by others. This may include interactions that have occurred on someone else’s social media wall or stream. Someone’s digital legacy might be informed by what others have posted online about the person in a newspaper, blog or external website. A digital legacy can be altered, edited and changed before, during or after someone’s death.

Do you understand the term ‘Digital Legacy’?

The Digital Legacy Association’s annual digital death survey explores society’s attitudes towards death, bereavement, technology and the internet. Our research indicates that the awareness around the term ‘digital legacy’ has increased significantly over the last few years.  

Data from the Digital Death Survey

The Digital Legacy Association believe that only once someone understands the value of their own digital legacy will they be motivated to make suitable plans for it.

Digital legacy Planning

 

There are a number of ways in which we can make plans for our digital legacy and the digital assets that are contained within online accounts and digital devices. This might include granting access to devices (computers, mobile phones etc) to one or more trusted person(s). Granting access might help ensure that photos, videos and important files remain accessible and are not locked behind a password in perpetuity.

Digital death survey - password for computer

Data from the Digital Death Survey

Plans for photos and videos that saved ‘in the cloud’ on social media and other online accounts can also be made. Planning might involve downloading a copy of your uploaded media and passing on a backup of the media to someone you trust. It may also involve curating your favourite media, printing a selection of photos, documenting your wishes within a social media will and granting account access to a third party.

Digital Death Survey - Planned for social media accounts

Data from the Digital Death Survey

Making plans for your online accounts and safeguarding your digital legacy.

Making plans for your online accounts and digital legacy cannot be undertaken by a third party, plans should be made by you… You own the online accounts and devices where your personal photos, videos and other digital assets are held. You also know the password for these accounts. You might also own the photos, videos, money and credit held within them. Some solicitors and for profit organisations will charge a fee to ‘manage’ your digital accounts however this can cause confusion, financial loss and the loss of sentimental photos and videos. If you wouldn’t trust a stranger to organise your personal photos and your possessions of monitory value you might not want to trust a stranger or third party organisation when making plans for your personal photos, videos and digital assets of monitory value.

 To learn how to make plans for your own online accounts and devices visit our tutorial hub.

Digital legacy App

 

There are a small number of apps that can help the general public make plans for their online accounts. Some of them charge a fee for use. The MyWishes app is free to use and allows users to document all of their accounts and print out an exhaustive list in a ‘Social Media Will‘ document. 

A separate digital legacy feature allows messages to written, recorded and uploaded. These messages are only published after the user dies allowing people to say “goodbye” to their friends and family members online.

Support for professionals

 

If you are a hospice, funeral, social care or legal professional you might find our directory of resources of value. They are all free to view and access. 

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