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Surprising Science

Who Will Inherit Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?

The Uniform Law Commission supports a plan that would grant loved ones access to a deceased person’s social media accounts unless otherwise specified in a will. Opponents of the plan say it infringes upon privacy rights.

What’s the Latest?

Chances are, if you’ve been active on social media for the better part of a decade, someone on one of your friends list is no longer alive. Facebook has a feature that turns deceased users’ profiles into memorial pages. Other profiles have been commandeered or deactivated by loved ones and relatives, though most onlines terms of service decree that only the person who opened an account is legally allowed to access and post from it. A new plan endorsed by the Uniform Law Commission proposes legislation that would come into conflict with those terms of service — social media accounts would automatically be passed down to loved ones in order to access them (though not post from them). The only exception would be if the deceased had restricted access in his/her will.

What’s the Big Idea?

There are two sides of this argument. For one side, the internet exists much like a digital filing cabinet. When a person dies, their loved ones should be granted access to the cabinet in order to salvage information, photos, videos, etc. On the other side, privacy activists argue it would not be right to insist that a person should draw up a will in order maintain the security of secrets kept online. Still, it seems wise to insist on executors and loved ones gaining control of online personas rather than allowing the companies that house them to levy restrictions.

This is, as is mentioned in the Associated Press/Yahoo article linked below, a debate over “digital assets.” Basically, we’re playing catch-up here. Technology has advanced a lot quicker than laws about it have.

Read more at Yahoo

Photo credit: ra2studio / Shutterstock


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