Main | Monday, December 14, 2009

The Digital Will

Every other time I log into YouTube, I get asked if I would like to subscribe to the channel of my lifelong friend Jorge Rodriquez, who died six months ago of a heart attack. The request doesn't particularly trouble me, mostly because of how Jorge would have thought it was funny. But for many folks, such a daily online reminder is quite upsetting. Accordingly, one group is setting up a digital will service so you can direct how your online presence should be handled after your demise.
My Webwill is set to test launch in Sweden and the United States this month and go live in Britain and Germany in the beginning next year. An upgraded version is expected in May, expanding to more countries. Users can set up a digital will with directions on what should happen to their e-mail and social network accounts after they die. Currently, a Facebook profile, for example, can remain active long after its creator has passed away. In some cases they become posting boards for condolence messages or even gossip - against the family's wishes. "Practically everyone knows someone that has died and whose blog just stays up there, or whose Facebook profile keeps on sending friendship suggestions," said Lisa Granberg, 29, a co-founder of My Webwill. "Those surviving that person, have a very difficult time (doing) something about it."
The service is $29/year and includes the option of sending pre-written messages to your loved ones. You must select one or two "identifiers" who will notify My Webwill of your death, they'll then confirm that with authorities to ensure against any possible malicious intent.

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