What would happen to your family photos stored on Facebook or your important legal documents stored in the digital cloud if you died or became incapacitated?
Life Matters Media is on a mission to help Chicagoans plan for their “digital afterlife” and safeguard social media accounts, email systems and important legal and financial documents.
As technology reshapes interpersonal communication and document storage, Americans must learn to prepare for the unexpected and work to ensure their loved ones have access to their numerous accounts.
“There are easy steps that we can take online to ensure that those after we might not be here can have access to the affairs that they need to have access to online,” said Co-Founder and President Randi Belisomo on WGN 720. “So much of our lives is online and so much of our property is managed by third-party accounts,” she added. “It’s not just our horse and our farm and our old homestead anymore. Our property is out there in the digital world.”
LMM, in collaboration with Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ, will host “Your Digital Afterlife” Tuesday May 19 at Revolution Brewing during Chicago Craft Beer Week. Chicago Sun-Times lifestyle reporter Sue Ontiveros recommends the event, because digital death is “something most of us probably haven’t thought about much. But we should.”
WBEZ Digital Content Director Tim Akimoff will answer questions regarding Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook and other popular services. Ronette L. McCarthy, legal counsel to Elements, the cremation company, will address federal laws protecting personal data and the important step of appointing a digital proxy to obtain and manage online property.
“Because the World Wide Web is only 25 years old, we don’t have much of a plan for how to pass along our digital property,” Akimoff reported last fall. “While most people still have physical properties like homes or cars or businesses, many people have developed digital assets that are increasingly valuable. Online banking, insurance, forms filled out for the department of motor vehicles, medical records, credit cards and almost every aspect of our lives is digitized today.”
The world has changed more in the past decade than in the previous 500, he added. There are more than 30 million Facebook accounts belonging to dead people, and a recent study estimates digital assets average about $34,000 per person.
To help users plan, Facebook and Google have launched programs allowing users to appoint “legacy contacts” that can take control over their account in case of death, LMM reporter Daniel Gaitan told Rivet Radio producer Marc Filippino.
“If we put a fraction of the amount of planning in the end of life as we do in the beginning, I think we’d all be better for it,” Belisomo told WGN-TV feature reporter Marcus Leshock. “Dying is not as easy as it used to be. It is really complicated… Just start a conversation. The first step to actually taking action is getting comfortable with the idea.”
You can register here: http://bit.ly/1KKyAmg