Social Networking after Death? Google, Twitter, and Facebook

Social media became heavily popular in the early 2000’s when MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Friendster were launched. These sites allowed users to communicate in other ways besides email. Today, there are tons of different kinds of social networking websites. However, Facebook, Twitter, and Google remain of the most popular. These networking sites allow users to communicate in different ways. Google focuses more on email and/or chat, while Facebook and Twitter allow users to communicate with one another with “statuses” and “tweets,” respectively. These social media sites recently took it a step further and introduced ways of tweeting and messaging after death.  By allowing this to happen, are companies just really desperate to keep their social media outlets buzzing with posts from the dead?

Google introduced the Google Inactive Account Manager or what it has been called lately, “Google Death Manager.” Those that are heavily involved with social media accounts probably have wondered what happens to their account after they pass. Google has a plan for those that care what will happen to their Google services such as Gmail, Blogger, Google Drive, Google+, Google Voice, and so on. Basically, you have two choices. You can either either pass on your “digital life” to someone you trust, or you can simply set up a time of inactivity. You can choose from one, three, six, nine, or 12 months. If you happen to not login in the certain amount of time you chose, then Google will either contact/alert 10 of your trusted contacts (and share your data with them) or you can simply have it set up to delete your account.  Personally, I think this is not a bad idea at all. If someone disappears or dies suddenly, maybe there is information in their Google account that will help solve the case. I support privacy in every aspect all the way, but this can really help in a time of need.

Next, Facebook has introduced an app called “Ifidie” that allows users to send messages to your friends after your death. I believe the  If I die app  is a bit too much. The Facebook administraters post a public Facebook message or send out private message to specific people. The admin are allowed to do this once at least three of the trusted friends you choose report your death to the Facebook service. I understand we are in the digital era, however, I believe this is just too much. Again, is this to keep the buzz going?

Twitter has also introduced social media after death with _LivesOn. This is a tool that monitors your Twitter habits and patterns then after your death, it will continue Tweet for you.

Perhaps social networking after death is for those who are more comfortable with death. Personally, I think these companies are trying to get the buzz however they can. Would you like to be active on social media even after your death?


18 thoughts on “Social Networking after Death? Google, Twitter, and Facebook

  1. I believe that these social media companies are taking it too far. As mentioned, death is a sensitive topic for many and should not be exploited. I understand that these applications and features are accessed by choice, but you have to keep in mind the families of the people that pass away. I do agree that the Google Death Manager may be useful, but the rest are not necessary. Do family members need sudden reminders of the passing of their loved ones? I know that some people view death in a different way, but I think its best to keep everyone in mind. Thank you for the post!

  2. This post is relevant because social media is a huge part of society, especially to millenials. I found this very interesting because it made me think, “has social media become that large of a part in people’s lives?” Thinking about how you are going to update your “status” on Facebook or continue to “tweet” on Twitter after dying is a bit too much in my opinion. I agree with your point on finding information about someone dying or disappearing suddenly, but I believe there can be other ways to obtain this information. Is staying up to date through social media after death moral? This also made me think, “is social media a tool used to communicate with people or is it just becoming a habit of reading things online and not caring about who wrote it?”

  3. I think that social media is an invasion of personal privacy which is exactly why I do not use any of them.. I figure that if I am important enough to a person to follow that its not that big of a step to want to contact them via email, phone, or other messaging tool. With regards to the social networking after death, I do not dislike or like the idea. It seems to me that it is a persons right to be able to share with the world what they want and if this involves them posting after their death, more power to them. Although I did like Google’s system that emails your closest contacts after a certain period of time of inactivity. I think this is a good way to cut back on some of the digital trash that is more than likely just a waste of space.

  4. I agree with your opinion of “Ifidie” being “too much”. The concept of honoring a friend or loved one after death is definitely understandable. However, I couldn’t help to think about the controversy it would cause between the public if those three “trusted” friends decided to pull a prank. I wonder how Facebook will identify between genuine and “phony” reports of death.

  5. I think that social media has taken such a huge part of our everyday lives that the “ifidie” app and the _Liveson tweets really does not surprise me. Some people are always on social media 24/7, not only when they are on their laptop/computer but also via their phones or tablets that they usually have on them. It has become a really personal world where people share everything with their social networks.

    I think the Google Inactive Account Manager is a good idea. I would want Google to delete my account after I die. I’m not too comfortable with the idea of my “close family and friends” to have access to my entire account..once you’re dead, that’s it, you’re gone. I don’t think there is a reason for your family/friends to have your stuff. It’s better for it to be deleted and gone. It could bring up too much emotion for your family to receive your emails a few months later after being inactive, it’s a sensitive time. I guess that is a personal choice though.

    Also, FaceBook/Twitter should delete your account after your death, or be sure to tell a close friend/family your password so they could delete/deactivate. Personally, my BFF has my passwords for this reason, it may sound morbid, but you never know what will happen. Death waits for no one and it’s better to be safe than sorry. I wouldn’t want my social networks to be active after my death. The tweets after death is extremely creepy and a bit excessive. What is the purpose of your tweets after you die? nothing. It’ll only cause confusion as well as bring back emotions to your loved ones.

  6. I am pretty much with every other commenter so far in that I feel social media is overstepping their bounds by introducing “afterlife” applications. As inevitable a part of life as it is, death remains a very sensitive topic in our culture and age, and for websites like Facebook and Twitter to exploit the topic in this way seems wholly insensitive. Having a website generate content on behalf of the deceased after their passing almost becomes insulting, and from a moral standpoint it shows no respect for the decedent or their loved ones. It seems completely ignorant of business ethics to take such actions; would a company try to replicate the work and persona of an employee that has long left this world? I think the best options for social media to deal with a user’s death is to either leave their pages be, or delete them from their servers like Google is doing. In doing so, their page can act as an memorial in itself to commemorate their life, or protect their privacy if their information is removed.

  7. It is a bit too much. There is a funeral and obituary. People can also leave a message or a wall post for the person if they die. Also what if the death isn’t accurate? Then many people wold be sad but it would not be real. So we shouldn’t use social media for this. There is already a will that people can use to give assets to people who they leave behind. The “Ifidie” act is a bit too much as the blog poster said. It would also be a good idea to give your password to a person who you are close to. In case they die then they can post a farewell post.

  8. Great comment at the end of the post! I completely agree with the fact that these social networking sites are trying to get the buzz in whatever way they can. Tweeting and updating statuses by a generated app after your death seems to me that they are going to over board with it. This could lead to many issues after ones death. One of the issues could be that it would not allow people to cope properly with someones death. If they continue to see tweets and posts by them they will still feel their existence around. Its as if they will “live forever” by social networking after death. The Google inactive account manager although is a great idea in my opinion. I agree that if someones account is inactive for a while it should be deactivated or you can have the option of giving up your account to someone you trust after your death. This is reasonable, because one may have important information on their email that they do not want anyone to see. But social networking after death in my opinion is creepy and unnecessary.

  9. The Twitter application is definitely creepy. I would not want that for myself, or anyone of my loved ones. Death is a part of life, and there is a grieving process involved which is natural. Allowing one to live on socially could interrupt this process and I would think could have psychological harm for some people. I don’t fully understand the Facebook application based on the explanation above, but I do think it’s okay to leave one’s page up if the person’s family and loved ones are okay with it as it can be left for memorial. I think Google and other e-mail serves should allow people to designate an individual they trust to take over their accounts after death. I would think there would need to be proof of death or some sort of legal document or police record of a missing person. There are a lot of jealous people out there and I could see some people taking advantage of this to snoop on others.

  10. This topic is very controversial, and I enjoyed the author’s remarks. There could be many problems with this business model. For one, what if the person is not dead? This would only draw fear into all of the person’s friends and family, and hypothetically create chaos. If you die and no one knows you are dead for over a month (which is the minimum set by Google it looked like) then you likely had a very sad existence in the first place. Can you imagine a computer automation telling you a friend died? This post is relevant because customers of the social networking sites expect technological advancements in order to stay interested. A prime example of a failed social networking site that did not spend much on R&D is MySpace.

  11. I think the Ifidie is initiated it would cause a lot of concern. Especially since Hackers already have it easy to pretty much find out anything about a person. I have a feeling that there would be a lot of hacking through this. People are already to concerned about checking in to places so all their friends know where there at. It is just to impersonal to found out if someone you love or know has passed away through an alert on a social media site.

  12. This topic really speaks to the direction that our society is moving in, or rather has already moved in, both in terms of users and businesses. It’s a little concerning that users’ main concerns towards death is “what would happen to my social media content when I’m dead”. I think it’s a little self-involved and shows how closely tied personal identity in 2013 has become with social media. Social media has become the main basis on which we form conceptions of ourselves and others. This topic also highlights the permanence of our generation’s online presence. Social media is the main marker that is uniquely synonymous with our generation, it’s our legacy. It’s all just a matter of whether or not that is a good or a bad marker to have. In my opinion, its a double-edged sword, both a blessing and a curse, because communication has become pioneered in the most expansive sense, but communication and social media has made a lot of things both over-exposed and diluted.

    On the business end of things, it shows how far these companies are willing to go in exploiting their users in order to make profit. It’s totally unethical and reaches beyond the bounds of what social media sites should have control over. If a user is uninformed, these companies essentially have a monopoly over your personal information, dead or not.

  13. All I can say is wow. Social media sites are way out of line posting for someone after their death. Let actual authorities notify family and friends of an individual’s passing. Don’t let them find out through social media. That is just disrespectful to the deceased and their loved ones. I understand that a person’s death may not be natural or may be the result of a crime, but like I said earlier, let the authorities handle that. I think social media is becoming too involved in people’s lives to the point where they are starting to run them. Communicating with friends, family, colleagues, etc. is fine with me, but social media has become much more than that. For example, every major news outlet ran the story of the Pope Francis’ first tweet. Is this really that important? I think we all need to take a step back and evaluate how much power social media sites have, compared to how much they should have. I think this is getting to be a bit ridiculous.

  14. Thanks for a really interesting post. After reading all of your thoughts, I have to say that I am kind of confused on the way I view this topic. On one hand, one can argue that that social media is already too invasive of privacy, and this is completely stepping over the line. Applications such as Twitter and Facebook put everything out there for the world to see while you’re alive… how is it fair that they are going to keep making your content public when you’re dead? I, for one, am not a fan of either of these sites. I deleted my Facebook a long time ago and only use Twitter to follow different sports handicappers (I gamble a lot).

    On the other hand, I could see how Facebook contacting 10 friends of yours after a period of inactivity to be an extremely helpful tool for law enforcement in the event someone is missing. For example: there is a Facebook user who is sort of a loner who goes missing for a few weeks. If the user doesn’t keep in contact with many people, their friends and family wouldn’t know to be looking for them if something bad had happened to them. Overall, though, I think social media is stupid and I feel bad for the people who are allowing it to completely take over their lives. I miss the #goodolddays where I would walk to a friend’s house to see if he wanted to hang out.

  15. By Google having the options available to users to delete their accounts or sending their personal data to trusted individuals, I believe that this is a good idea just in case one has information that needs to be deleted or shared among others. As for Facebook launching their “ifidie” application, I agree with you in that this action has been taken too far, especially ethically. It seems as if Facebook is kind of promoting the idea of death and talking to the dead. I think that this is basically a business scheme to keep social networking alive and are not sharing whether there are extra fees for these services.

  16. What Google seems to be doing is really interesting, and I do like the fact that it does respect a level of privacy when it comes to sending the data to only people you trust. However, with the rest of the social media continuing on making posts after your death, I personally wouldn’t want this to happen to me. It’s a huge ethical dilemma, and honestly I think if anything, that person’s friends and family would do the deceased person a favor to make the changes for them instead, or just delete them off facebook.

  17. My initial reaction to reading this is, “wow.” As stated in your post, we are clearly living in the digital age, however I am not sure I agree with the direction in which it is headed. The concept for Google seems like it may have potential benefits in extreme circumstances; perhaps in discovering the last known whereabouts of a homicide victim. Beyond that, Facebook and Twitter seem to be making more incremental steps towards controlling every aspect of life, and I cannot say I am comfortable with that. Even if we’re in a digital age, death will always remain a highly sensitive subject that needs to be handled gently, not turned into another way to gain marginal profit for large companies.

  18. I think this is insane. Whoever came up with these ideas should be on suspension from their position(s). I do not believe this is appropriate for anyone and being a Catholic, I believe that the Catholic church and its people are angered by this. As mentioned, death is a very sensitive topic to most people all over the world. If someone’s loved ones saw “tweets” or instant messages from them after their death then I believe two things would happen. The first is that they would be shocked at whose name it is. The second thing would be a reminder of their loss. This is a tragic idea and should be abandoned immediately.

Leave a Reply to spr1321jcastiglione Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *