Your Digital Life After Death

We’re all going to die. And when we do, Google wants us to continue controlling our digital selves.

Google announced today that users of its myriad digital services can control how their data is handled while they’re taking a dirt nap. The awkwardly named Inactive Account Manager lets you tell Google to delete or share your precious data with a predetermined person after a specified period of inactivity.

The “Timeout Period” — as entertaining a euphemism for death as we’ve heard — can be set to three, six, nine or 12 months. After that time has elapsed, you will receive a text message and an email before Google forwards all those Picasa photos from Vegas to your mom. The service pulls data from Blogger, your contacts, email, Google+, Picasa, YouTube and Google Voice.

As we become more intertwined with digital services, just what we’re supposed to do with all that data after death has entered the zeitgeist. After the death of film critic Roger Ebert, for example, his Twitter account has become a a source of information from the editor of Jim Emerson and his widow, Chaz Ebert.

Other services like DeadSocial send Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn messages after your death. You can schedule messages from your social network accounts for up to 400 years from now, although it’s unlikely Facebook will, like MySpace, be anything more than a graveyard by then. Of course, you can also just use HootSuite to schedule messages before you engage in any especially dangerous activities.

Like, say, crossing the street while staring at your smartphone.

Originally posted on


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