How to notify ppl online that you are no longer there?
March 8, 2010 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Found out recently that an online friend had passed away 6 or 7 months ago. His real life relationships did not crossover w/ his online ones. What would be a good system to put in place in case I face a situation like this?

I know there are a few people that I have wondered if they just cut off contact/moved on with their life/ or died over the years and I would like to remedy that situation for friends.

The problem being that no one who has access to my computer here in person is computer savy enough to navigate to things like gmail or understand how to initiate a mass email or what the Drafts folder would be. They can manage turning it on just barely.

As well what would be the best way to give people access to online accounts, banking etc and passwords? I wouldn't want to give people these while I am still around for matters of privacy but would need them to know about them I suppose to transfer funds from online only banks and to delete accounts such as mefi, facebook, etc. Giving website tasks to online friends and step by step instructions to real life people?

I am just wondering in these modern times when some of our best friends can be people who we have never met what is the best system that could be put in place so that all would get notification.
posted by beautifulcheese to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
A competent estates lawyer can help you with all of these things as part of drawing up a will. For example, you might provide your lawyer (or whomever has power of attorney for you) with a key/combo to a small safe, in which you keep a list of email addresses, logins, passwords, bank info, etc, whatever you would want people to have access to after your death. You keep the small safe in your house, and update its contents whenever you want. If you have an online friend who will do all the deleting for you, the will could instruct your executor to pass the login credentials to that online friend, etc.
posted by modernnomad at 2:56 PM on March 8, 2010

Oddly enough, I was just reading an article about this in the local alternative weekly. In short, it seems like this is an issue where people are only beginning to work on an infrastructure for dealing with "digital afterlife."

On the practical level of what you could do now, you could print out a page with your key logins and passwords, along with directives describing how you want your online presence to be handled. Put it in an envelope, write "to be opened upon my death," and stick it with other estate-related documents. Obviously this is something you'd need to revisit pretty regularly.
posted by adamrice at 2:57 PM on March 8, 2010

Use truecrypt to encrypt a list of passwords and share the file using dropbox with a trusted friend.
posted by yoyoceramic at 3:10 PM on March 8, 2010

I made a "In case of super emergency" package for my family. It's a sealed envelope that contains all my financial info, and an easy way for them to access my 1Password file (which contains all of my logins to everything online). Even though they don't use macs, they can easily do this through the web (I left instructions with screenshots). All these files are on an Ironkey.

Both my folks and my sister have the password (stored separately) to this Ironkey. I trust them not to access this info until I am truly brain dead.

In your case, you could include further instructions on how to email everyone in your address book.
posted by special-k at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2010

Get a phone number for your closest internet friend, then stick it in an envelope with your email password and give it to one of the real life people.

Even if they're freaked out by computers, there's nothing to stop them from calling somebody up to say "Beautifulcheese has been in an accident. She left a note to tell you that her email password is 'flibbertigibbet' and that there's a letter for you in drafts. Whatever that means..."
posted by the latin mouse at 3:26 PM on March 8, 2010

Several articles have addressed this:

When Passwords And User Names Die With The User -
Estate Planning In The Digital Age
What happens to your e-mail when you die?
Or your digital photos, or your Web site domain? How to prepare
posted by yclipse at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2010

There are a lot of organizations and companies starting to work on issues of personal digital archiving. Some good information & resources can be found at The Digital Beyond.
posted by judith at 6:01 PM on March 8, 2010

The term you're looking for is "dead man's switch".
posted by unknowncommand at 6:42 PM on March 8, 2010
posted by bbyboi at 8:30 PM on March 8, 2010

Not sure about the passwords and other digital issues, but here’s how I handle the notification issue. I created what I call a “bad news list” – a list of all the friends I’d want contacted in case something happened to me. The list has my friends’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and their relationship to me (i.e. how we met). I gave this list to my best friend who I see frequently in real life. She knows that if something happens to me, she is to contact everyone on that list to let them know.
posted by yawper at 8:31 AM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: Ah, some great answers here that will start me off on figuring out what is best for me. Thank you.
posted by beautifulcheese at 12:06 PM on March 9, 2010

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