Our Digital Legacy

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
November 04, 2013, 12:43 AM GMT+0

Over recent months there have been various news articles around what people expect to happen to their social media accounts after they die. Indeed, law firms dealing with people’s wills are increasingly encouraging people to consider their digital legacy alongside their physical goods.

A recent YouGov survey shows that one in eight (12%) Americans who use social media would definitely instruct that a tweet or post be sent out on their death. A further 31% would consider doing this. The long tradition of famous last words was considered by those considering messages to be left on their social networks, as can be seen by these humorous suggestions for last messages:

If you are reading this, I am dead. I hope my passing came from something cool, like a giant disco ball fell on me...or I was assassinated by ninjas...but, most likely, a poor diet and lack of exercise was probably the culprit.

...and you thought she'd NEVER shut up

Whereas others are more practical:

A simple statement basically saying, "Hey I'm dead" will suffice. I am away from my computer right now. Please do not leave a message.

And a large portion concerned for the feelings of those who may be mourning them:

Hi everyone! I know this is a sad time for you and that you may miss me terribly, but I want each and everyone of you to know how special you were to me. I love you all and I hope that life brings you all that you desire.

I went to join my family that has already left this planet, don't cry for me, now I'm very happy!

Asked what they would want to happen to their social media accounts when they die, almost half (46%) stated that they would like them to be shut down completely. One in four (23%) wanted them archived so that friends could look at them in the future and one in eight (16%) would like them left as they are.

Thoughts on this varied a little with age, however – with almost two-thirds (64%) of those aged over 55 wanting their accounts shut down completely.

This isn’t something that’s been considered by many, however, with two-thirds (66%) stating they hadn’t thought about the issue before taking the survey. A further 17% had thought about the issue a little in the past, 7% had given the issue a fair amount of thought and 6% had already taken action around the issue of their digital legacy.

For further information about poll results, and for details about methodology and omnibus services, please email omnibus.us@yougov.com.

Find the full results here.

Image: Getty Images