Death will one day come calling. What will become of all your posts, likes and comments on Facebook long after you’re buried? What about all the photos you pose for on Instagram?
Will someone hack your Twitter account and begin posting like it’s you keying in from the grave? What of company secrets stored in your e-mail account and for which only you has the password?
We can go on to include the money you have stashed on M-Pesa and which also has a password under lock and key including the over seven million sports bettors whose soccer bets and winnings are also in their names and with passwords.
What could happen if, God forbid, the Mega jackpot winner of Sh200 million dies on Saturday only to be announced the winner on Monday?
Our lives, courtesy of technology, is now largely lived on social media where many Kenyans have online families in forms of WhatsApp groups, Facebook associations and even our dairies, blogs, appointments and medical records are online .
The question of what happens to one’s social life after death was brought alive with the murder in early September of Rongo University student and mother, Sharon Otieno.
Her Facebook page is still active and has not been pulled down. Instead, it has been turned into a Memorial Account titled ‘Remembering Sharon Otieno’.
Facebook wrote: “We hope people who love Sharon will find comfort in visiting her profile to remember and celebrate her life.”
With almost two years since the passing of Janet Kanini, her Facebook page with over 68,000 followers still remains dormant with the last post dating back to March 2017.
Contrary to the new changes her page is yet to be memorialised. Her Husband George Ikua says he did not see the need for the page to be deactivated as
“What Janet put out there is what she wanted people to know and she was comfortable and advocated for, who am I to pull her page down? She wanted it that way so it stays.”
When asked if he will request for it to memorialised he said, “I didn’t know pages can be memorialised. I am not into social media; you are just informing me.”
Indeed, some families have found different uses for a loved one’s Facebook page.
Charles Simpson, popularly known as Charlie, was the chairman and founder of the famous Film Studios in Nairobi.
When he died in July this year, the family accessed his Facebook account where they released a statement confirming his death and funeral arrangements. They wrote:
“Threads from an untidy attic. Our darling father, grandfather and great grandfather Charlie Simpson, passed away quietly in his sleep this afternoon. A sage, dynamic fighter, a man who took no bullshit, generous, adventurous, enigmatic argumentative and a loving human whom we were so lucky to have touch our lives. Gone to be with his Barbara. Already missing you. Neil, Sharon, Steve, Charleigh, hayley, Ben, Cat, Izla, Dave, Sam and Maisie.”
Their tribute and online obituary added that “many people have been asking about our dad’s (Charlie Simpson) funeral. His funeral will be a private affair for family only. We ask everyone to please respect our privacy in this time of grief. We do not want any embarrassing moments having to ask people to leave. At a later date we will hold a big celebration of his life open to his friends. Thank you The Simpson Clan.”
Charles Simpsons Facebook account was later deactivated after his private funeral.
In fact, Kenyans should consider having their social life ended with their demise if what happened to the late controversial businessman Jacob Juma was anything to go by.
More than two years after his murder, his Twitter account is still active with over 22,000 followers and 14,000 likes. It was not pulled down and weeks after his death, someone was mysteriously tweeting on his behalf!
Local comedian Obinna has no plans for his social media life after his death.
He told The Nairobian that “My Instagram has over 350,000 followers and Facebook has over 75,000 followers. My manager is an administrator in both my accounts, I do not use it for personal stuff apart from business. I don’t have anything to hide. If, God forbid, anything happens to me, he will be in charge of the accounts and can do anything with it.”
Obinna added: “if he decides to delete or sell it, let him do whatever will please him.”
Another comedian, Jalang’o, also concurred and confirmed that one of his brothers is in charge “of all my accounts and it will be up to him if he wants to keep my legacy or use the account for his business.”
Jalang’o has over 820,000 followers on Instagram, 280,000 followers on Twitter and 74,000 on Facebook.
If you don’t trust your family or friends you can live your personal details, with online funeral directors such as Legacy Locker, Asset Lock, Digital Legacy, and Deathswitch, all Internet based firms now offering encrypted space for Internet users to store their passwords and other information.
Digital Death and Afterlife Online Services List maintains a list of online services that are designed to help you plan for your digital death and afterlife or memorialise loved ones.
These services come in all flavours including digital estate services, posthumous email services and online memorials.
Legacy Locker helps you secure your digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of death or disability.
It helps one transfer the account information in a time of need. You create your Locker and begin putting assets inside it.
These might include your email accounts, your online photo storage, your social media login or any other websites and online accounts.
For each account you place in your locker, you can designate one beneficiary to that account.
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