For those who have lost their loved ones, social media platforms can allow for RIP memorials, and for recreating memorable visual and audio collections that keep those who have passed away alive in our imaginations. In fact, digital immortality/virtual immortality that escapes the constraints of time and space is […]
Famous personalities and celebrities with millions of followers on social media platforms enjoy the stature comparable to high-value brands. Their Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram images not only have the potential to influence society but often become fodder for news, online discussions and even prime time debates. But have […]
Social media users are being urged to appoint a digital executor to make sure their wishes for their accounts are respected after death.
Many people do their banking, insurance and other financial business online, as well as engage on social media platforms, without giving much thought to legal protocols.
Director of Operations at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Narelle Clark told Nine to Noon people are increasingly storing their personal and financial information online.
They often don’t read the fine print and have no idea what will happen to their digital footprint if they die.
Ms Clark is hosting a forum set up by Internet New Zealand in Wellington on Thursday, which will feature experts discussing the types of steps people can take to protect their digital legacy.
“What you should do is sit down and, alongside your normal will, think up all of the things you want to do with your digital footprint,” she said.
“All of this stuff that you’re accumulating online, particularly if it’s got monetary value – I can’t stress that enough, if it’s got monetary value – make sure that your designated heirs can get access to all this after you move on.”
Some people want their Facebook accounts to remain open after they die so people can visit their page and remember them. Photo: 123RF
Facebook now allows members to set up a legacy contact, allowing its user to nominate someone who will decide whether their page is shut down, or kept online as a memorial page to the deceased.
“You can also download the entire contents offline so that your family can remember your photos and so forth offline, if they want to sort through them offline rather than online, but people often find having some online presence – especially if that’s how they interacted with you – can be comforting.
“People wanted to leave it there because they can go to that person’s Facebook page and remember them and be comforted by the memories and times they had fun together, when they visited the Louvre together or Eiffel Tower or whatever they did.”
Google, meanwhile, might not hand over access to family members without a court order, to protect the privacy of people who had been in correspondence with the email account holder. However, you can also set up an inactive account manager, who might be notified if your account hasn’t been used in some time.
Twitter reserves the right to keep high-profile accounts active after the death of the original owner, with the possibility that the account might use artificial intelligence to continue tweeting.
“If Twitter decides, arguably, your account is making them a lot of money because they like advertising they could well decide not to shut it down.
“And there is now such a thing as an avatar, that can live on and tweet in your name using artificial intelligence to look at all the tweets you used to tweet.”
New Zealand Law Society has a checklist online, about what questions you should ask yourself about what you want to happen with your digital legacy after you die, and information about what different social media providers require to store, disclose or remove your content.
What happens to your social media legacy when you die? The question has arisen with increasing urgency lately, put into focus by features like Facebook’s occasionally creepy “On This Day” reminder and addressed by scattered policies across social media platforms. Now, states are attempting to get a better handle on the issue, most recently Florida, with bills intended to create a more consistent framework for our online afterlives.
A bill passed unanimously in the Florida Senate on Tuesday, with a related bill planned for debate in the House, that would require an explicit agreement by account holders in a will or through an internet company to allow another person to take over an accounts if they die. The Florida Senate said the bill is meant to clear up potential conflict between internet companies and loved ones attempting to access accounts after death.
Florida’s legislature comes after several other states have created similar frameworks. Connecticut recently ruled only an administrator of an estate can access the emails of a deceased person, and Rhode Island passed a similar law granting the administrator access to email as well. Neither of those policies give the person access to the social media accounts of the deceased, but other states, like Oklahoma, specify that administrator access does include microblogging and social media accounts.
With these scattered, inconsistent state-level policies, some social media platforms have created their own answers. Facebook offers members the option to designate someone as a “legacy contact” to manage their accounts after death. Google has also allowed users to name heirs and prepare for “digital afterlife.”
Of course, social media is not the only factor to get in order after death: there is also online banking (reminding someone to cash out your Venmo after you die, for example), gaming avatars, and online dating accounts. Privacy advocates have long expressed the need to create consistent framework for death online, and some “digital legacy” companies have popped up to cater to that market.
The laws are slowly catching up as we navigate the awkward early stages of death on the internet: we don’t really “like” that someone died, and we don’t need to be reminded that “this day in 2014” we were happily hanging out with someone who is no longer with us. As we straighten out these uncomfortable glitches in the fabric of the internet, and until we have more laws like the one Florida is considering, you should probably designate the person you’ve talked the least shit about on gchat to nuke your accounts when you die.
Are You Ahead Or Behind The Digital Curve In Your Funeral Business?
In a report from The Economist, Digital Evolution, Learning From The Leaders In Digital Transformation, executives declared Digitisation was transforming their business.
Digitisation is the process of converting systems and methods into a digital or online format. You must check all aspects of your business to stay compatible with digital technologies such as social media and mobile technology. Funeral Directors and the funeral industry are no exceptions.
The report described companies as either being ahead of the curve of change or behind the curve. Where is your funeral business? Are you ahead of the curve of Digitisation or behind? Did you even know that such a curve existed?
Most companies recognise that they are only partially integrated with Digitisation. However, those firms that are ahead of the curve made great strides in integrating digital systems into their businesses. These companies are benefiting from higher returns in finding new customers. The companies ahead of the curve are driven by competitive pressure to remain relevant.
Digital transformation is a process of change. It is not a one-off activity. As the pace of change continues to grow and as technology develops new practices, Funeral Directors will need to adapt. They need to change and implement new systems if they are going to remain relevant in this digital age.
What Is Driving This Change?
When asked why they said one critical issue was driving change. The overriding factor driving the digital transformation of their businesses was evolving customer expectations. Technologies such as smartphones and social media platforms drive customers to have high expectations for their digital interaction with companies.
Consumers expectations now routine are:
- Information and help accessible online 24/7
- Communication by mobile or IM (Instant Messaging)
- Online payments or donations
- Email communication
- Social Media communication
- Quick online responses to questions
Competition Is Growing For A Share Of The Funeral Industry
New companies are entering the funeral industry. Some have no background in the industry but see an opportunity to gain ground at the expense of traditional businesses. Funeral Directors debate the relevance of an integrated digital approach to their business. Others observe long established family businesses disrupted by new and digital relevant start-ups. To ignore or to try to hold back these trends is like King Canute trying to hold back the waves. It just cannot happen. These waves of change have already washed upon the shores of the funeral industry. The tide is coming in fast!
Where Are You On The Curve?
- Do you have a mobile responsive website? A website that can be viewed easily on mobile and tablet devices?
- Is your website easy to navigate and includes an easy to understand tagline about what you offer?
- How easy is it for consumers to find your Funeral Directors business online?
- Does your website make it easy for people to contact you?
- Are you using Instant Messaging by text or other platforms to communicate with your consumers?
- What facilities are you offering to give advice on Digital Legacy or online memorials?
- Do you offer online donation services for your clients?
- Are you using social media such as Facebook or Twitter?
These are just a few ways in which you can measure where you are on the curve of Digitisation. If the answer to most of these questions is no, then you are probably behind the curve. If you have never even considered these questions, then you are most likely unaware that a curve exists!
What are the steps that you are taking in your funeral business to ensure you will not have an adverse impact on the profitability of your company in the future? It starts with an honest and close look at the digital strategies of your funeral business. It needs an open mind and a willingness to change and adapt. It demands action to make sure that evolving customer expectations and competition from other firms does not squeeze your business out of the market.
If you would like to know more how I can help you evaluate and plan for your digital future as a Funeral Director, please contact me. Why not sign up for my regular newsletter with tips, advice and ideas. I would love to start a conversation with you.
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