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This Digital Life

Death by Facebook

Nineteen thousand Facebookers die every day, and now that the social media mecca has launched Timeline, which begins at birth, there’s really only one logical way for it to end, isn’t there? Modern-day philosophers say our ritual of communicating with deceased loved ones, or even celebrities, by posting on their Facebook pages is both strange and fascinating, especially as it relates to the persistence of identity. And the U.S. government is now urging citizens to create a “social media will” that stipulates what they’d like to happen to their social media profiles upon their deaths.

One way to manage the postmortem period on SoMe is to take up the offer of the Facebook app called “If I Die,” which allows users to record a video message that can be played in the event of death. In the U.K., Dead Soci.al lets people schedule secret messages to be distributed across social networks after death.

As it stands now, both Facebook and Twitter will remove a person’s profile if a family member produces a death certificate. And, as long ago as 2009, Facebook offered to “memorialize” profiles of dead loved ones. The estate of the deceased can apply for the right to access a Gmail account.

Whatever your opinions on our Internet afterlife, you must admit one thing: This is anything but a dying market.

Image credit: Creative Commons/J from the UK@flickr.com

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