Your Data Doesn't Die With You

Advertisers are compiling data on us just about everything we do -- the sites we visit on the Internet, the purchases we make, even the way we browse the Web.

But what happens to all this data when we die?  Unlike what you may think, it doesn't just disappear.  The data resides on corporate servers, according to Kirsten Korosec, and "are likely subject to that company’s terms of service. Depending on the email provider or social media company’s policy, the data might not remain private or can’t be transferred to a spouse or family member after your death."

But here comes Google to the rescue. Korosec reports that a new feature recently rolled out (hat tip Fast Company) makes it easier for users to determine what happens to their digital assets if they die or can no longer use the account.

Google asks users what they want done with their photos, emails and documents when they are no longer alive, who your data should be shared with, and ultimately gives users the option of deciding what they want done with their data -- before it's out of their hands.

The feature can be found on the Google Account settings page, Korosec notes, and users can have their data deleted after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity.

What's spookier, to me, is that you can also tweet after you die.  Of course, you're not actually doing it, but a new company, LivesOn, "uses algorithms to analyze your main (living) Twitter feed, learning about your tastes, likes and how you express yourself online," then selects topics that it "deems you would have been interested in and posts them under your Twitter handle," once you're gone, according to James Eng at

Who ever thought social media would take over our lives in this way?  It's now like taxes and death.. . one more sure thing in life.


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