Facebook has more than one billion users. Only a few of them have ever thought about what will happen to their Facebook account when they die. What will happen to all your uploaded photos, messages and online data once you pass away?
The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry recently surveyed UAE residents on how they want to protect their digital footprint and social media legacy. More than 40 % of the survey participants consider their digital footprint as an asset. Furthermore, survey participants said, they would include their social media accounts in a will or succession plan. These results demonstrate that what happens to a person’s digital footprint has become a significant consideration for succession.
Can you include your social media assets in a DIFC Will?
With the continuous evolution of technology, an individual’s online usage has become a part of their daily life. Whether social media is used for business or private purpose, the digital footprint is a significant asset. Sean Hird, Director of DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, said that passing on all assets, including the digital footprint and social media legacy, makes sense, as most people nowadays spend as much time online as offline. He explained, how important it is for individuals to think about what happens to their prized possessions. It is essential, that all assets, including physical and digital, are handled according to their wishes after death.
UAE residents can take care of their family’s future by registering a will with the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, which currently accepts wills containing assets in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to include social media assets in the DIFC Will yet. This could change in the future. For now, it is recommended to deactivate accounts or manage social media legacy through chosen custodians. Often, partners or spouses are the preferred custodian of social media accounts and can be entrusted to run social media as legacy pages.
How to choose a Legacy contact on Facebook?
You can tell Facebook in advance what you wish to happen to your account if you pass away. Go to your Facebook Account settings > General > Manage Account and the following two options will be displayed.
Deactivate your account: You can deactivate your account and remove your profile, name and photos from Facebook. Nevertheless, some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent.
Memorialized account: Instead of deleting your Facebook account, it can become a memorialized account where friends and family can gather and share memories after you passed away. Therefore, you can choose a Legacy contact who will look after your account in the event of your death. This person will be able to pin and post on your timeline, respond to friend requests and update your profile picture and cover photo. Furthermore, your Legacy contact can share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service.
Whereas including your social media assets has not been a service available at the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry yet, there are ways to take care of tomorrow. Registering a DIFC Will is one of the basic steps that every individual should take as part of their life planning.