Google introduces new option to help users plan for their ‘digital afterlife’

Google is quite omnipotent, and has such powerful control over our everyday interactions in the digital world today. Whether you choose to, or not, it is likely you use a Google product almost every day, and probably multiple times.

Facebook announced some time ago that they had introduced an option to facilitate an account being deactivated, or memorialized, following the death of a user. This was in response to legal issues they had faced regarding the mis-use, and access, of several deceased user accounts.

Those at the Googleplex have now modified their policy to deal with this same issue. What do you want to happen with all your digital assets when you die?

Inactive Account Manager

Google have added a feature called ‘Inactive Account Manager’ in the Google Account settings that enables you to define what you want to happen with all your sensitive personal digital assets and data should you no longer be around to control them.

It is probably something that most people just do not think of, or really want to prepare for. However, as we live more and more of our lives online and share and save so much personal data digitally, it is essentially something that everyone should consider.

To delete, or not delete, that is the question

The Inactive Account Manager feature enables you to plan ahead and specify what will happen with all your digital assets if your account becomes inactive. You basically have the option to have all your data deleted or you can specify a recipient who can receive some, or all of your data.

This effectively addresses the issues Facebook has had where family of a suddenly deceased family member wished to retain access to an account where many digital photos were stored.

If you use services such as Gmail, Google+, Picasa, YouTube, or Blogger you may wish to ensure the data you have uploaded is secured somehow for prosperity and your legacy.

How does it work?

Timeout Period

Firstly you can choose to specify how long a period of inactivity should elapse before your digital assets are deleted or transferred – 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

Nominate ‘trusted’ contact

Secondly, you can then select whom you wish to receive your data, either from specific services or all your Google products.

Lastly, do not be concerned that if your Google Account is inactive for a period of time for another reason your personal digital assets will be deleted or transferred.

Alert Me

Before any action is taken the Google system will send a text to your cell phone and an email to your secondary email address, giving you a chance to respond if you have just been inactive without having deceased!

Google’s acknowledgement of the need to plan for the ‘digital afterlife’, in the wake of Facebook’sown policies for memoralizing or deleting a deceased’s user account, highlight how our preparations for our own personal legacies are changing as our digital society evolves.

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Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.