Would you like to stay online after you die?

The idea of bots stalking my twitter feed to gather data so that they can mimic me once I am dead just freaks me out!

Faraz Hasan March 12, 2013
Over the last few years, social media websites, applications and services have taken over practically all aspects of our lives and now they plan to take over our lives after death as well!

Usually, when a person passes away, his ‘online assets’ (social media accounts, email accounts, blogs, websites etcetera) are rendered inactive, however, I recently came across an article about services that will help to manage your social media pages even after you have passed away.

After having read the article mentioned above and finding out a bit more about the services provided, I found out that this wasn’t the only website with that idea, there are in fact quite a few more.

Perhaps one of the most elaborate and interesting of such services is a twitter application called ‘LivesOn’.

As per their website, the service, which is set to launch this month, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse your main twitter feed, learning about your likes, tastes and syntax. It will then begin to populate your Twitter feed once a nominated ‘executor’ to your ‘will’ decides to keep your account ‘live’.

The tagline on their website says it all,
‘When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting’.

To be honest, the idea of having ‘bots’ stalk my twitter feed to gather data about my online activities so that it can mimic them once I am dead just freaks me out. I cannot imagine giving my consent to produce a digital clone of myself posting links, favourite-ing posts and retweeting content into eternity.

Other services such as ‘DeadSocial’, ‘If-I-die’ and ‘DeathSwitch’ allow you to setup messages, posts, tweets, videos and more to be released after a specified period of time or after your death has been confirmed by different means.

This basically gives you the option of sending messages from beyond the grave similar to people leaving letters to be read out after they die but I believe that there is a chance that such a service may also be used by people to send out tormenting or abusive messages after their deaths knowing that they can never be held accountable for them.

Also available are services like ‘AssetLock ’ and ‘LegacyLocker’ which let you grant friends and loved ones the access to your online assets in the event of loss, death, or disability by giving them the right to manage or close your accounts as they deem fit. This is probably the most rational of all the mentioned services because the best way to dispose of one’s online accounts or to keep them alive may be by transferring them to a trusted friend or loved one who can deal with them in a manner that the deceased person would have wanted.

All the above ideas, although innovative, seem like something straight out of a sci-fi movie and are definitely not my cup of tea!

It really doesn’t appeal to me to see updates from the deceased knowing that they are no longer with us.

In my opinion, the essence of social interaction is knowing that a person is actually there for us and we can call them, talk to them or spend time with them whenever we want. Seeing bots posting stuff on behalf of a friend or loved one will only make us realise that the person is no longer alive and will in fact make us feel worse by missing their physical presence. But I am sure that a lot of people will still sign up for these services and we will probably soon see social media websites being haunted by ‘digital ghosts’.

However, the only thing that the services above remind me of is a dialogue from the movie ‘The Mummy’ that is,
‘Death is only the beginning’.

Note: For those who are interested in more services similar to the ones mentioned in this blog, please visit ‘The Digital Beyond’.

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Faraz here or follow him on Twitter @eff_eche
Faraz Hasan A Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan and is currently working in the UK & Ireland division of one of the big 4 audit firms. His interests include travelling, cricket and photography. He tweets @eff_eche (https://twitter.com/eff_eche) and blogs at http://farazhasan.wordpress.com
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Red | 9 years ago | Reply Also, while I wouldn't want my accounts active, I would want them left open for people I know to read and comment on. I've seen family member close the accounts of their dead ones. It's not for me. My online presence holds my words, writings and opinions. I wouldn't want it to disappear forever. Each to their own.
Red | 9 years ago | Reply I think it's kind of cool. I already knew about passing on your accounts to someone. I wrote blogs (locked, not publicly available) for a couple of years so I made an online will which will give all my passwords to my sister after I die. I did it a few years ago. Gosh, I don't even remember what website it was. I should probably update the passwords on it.
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