Do You Care About Your Digital Afterlife?

About a month ago, I received an email notification that it was a Facebook friend’s birthday. I get an email like that almost every day because I have my Facebook account set up to remind me when one of my friends has a birthday.

The person for this particular birthday reminder was actually a friend of my parents and I did a double take when I read the email reminder.

You see, this gentleman was deceased and had been for over a year.

I was a little shocked at the thought that probably all of his Facebook friends were receiving an email to say “Happy Birthday” to him on his page.

In this particular instance, I suspected that the remaining family had no idea how to remedy this situation, so I decided to contact Facebook on their behalf. Facebook has an online page for submitting this type of information and will memorialize a deceased person’s account with a valid request which includes a link to an obituary or other official documentation about the death.

A memorialized Facebook account can still be used by friends and family to remember the loved one with postings, but friend suggestions, ads and birthday reminders will stop. The word “Remembering” will be added next to the person’s name on their profile.

There are other options for Facebook accounts after death. Verifiable family members can request to have an account completely removed from Facebook, but don’t you want to be in charge of your digital afterlife?

This got me thinking about end-of-digital-life plans and what you can do to protect your social digital remains and make it easier on your loved ones after you are gone. Currently, Facebook and Google seem to be the most proactive and allow you to edit settings about what will happen to your account after you die and who you give permission to facilitate your wishes. For example, you can choose to have your account deleted or name a legacy contact who can download an archive of your posts, photos, emails, etc.

LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest depend upon family and friends to contact them after a death, with supporting documents, to close an account. Hopefully, these popular online sites will add the capability for users to leave directions for after death account closure or access.

How to specify digital afterlife settings in Facebook

Facebook allows you to either specify a contact to manage your Facebook account or to completely delete your account after you die. Any of your contacts or family can report your death with supporting documentation, which Facebook reviews and then approves. Your selected legacy contact can post a message on your page, change your profile picture, respond to friend requests and download your shared posts and photos. Unfortunately, you can’t choose to have a legacy contact and to eventually delete your Facebook page.

  1.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security.
  2. If you want to have your account managed and remaining on Facebook, click on Legacy Contact. More information about legacy contacts is here.
    • Enter the name of one of your Facebook contacts. You will have the option to immediately send a message notifying that person that you have selected him/her as your legacy contact, but you don’t have to send one.
    • You can choose whether or not to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook.
  3. If you don’t want your account to remain on Facebook, do not enter a legacy contact. Instead, check the box for Account Deletion.

How to specify digital afterlife settings in Google

I really like Google’s method. They call it the Inactive Account Manager because it only activates after there has been no activity with your account for an amount of time that you specify. Once that amount of time has passed, Google will attempt to contact you (in case you’re still around!) and secondary contacts that you name. You can specify that all or parts of your account are automatically deleted or allow for your legacy contacts to download your account data.

  1. Go to https://www.google.com/settings/account.
  2. Under Account Tools, click on Inactive Account Manager.
  3. You may need to enter your mobile phone number and verify it.
  4. Choose the amount of time your account can be inactive before Google attempts to contact you or your legacy contacts.
  5. Add trusted contacts, one at the time. You will select which Google services they can access. They will have 3 months to download your data.
  6. Compose an email that will be sent to your contact upon your inactivity. (This was quite hard for me and emotional!)
  7. You can add up to 10 trusted contacts with separate emails for each.
  8. Set up a general auto response to incoming emails once your account has been inactive for the specified period of time. I recommend selecting to send this response only to those who are in your contacts.
  9. You can choose to have all of your account data deleted once your requested actions have been completed.
  10. Once you have completed your Inactive Account settings, click on the Enable button.
  11. You can edit or disable your Inactive Account settings at any time.

Links to digital afterlife policies for other sites

Here’s a helpful article I just found on how to create a digital estate plan. This site also provides other information and services, like links on how to close over 100 digital services.

This isn’t a particularly cheery subject – to contemplate the end of one’s life. But, if you are proactive enough to have a last will and testament in place, then you should also be proactive with your digital estate planning.

Google is Paying You to Review Your Account Settings

Apparently, February 10 was “Safer Internet Day.” I guess I never got the memo!

I did, however, find out that in honor of “Safer Internet Day,” Google will give you an extra 2 gigabytes of storage for reviewing security features on your account. It’s quick, easy and well-worth three minutes of your time. This is a time-limited offer, so I want to be sure that all of you with personal (not business) Google accounts take advantage of this free cloud storage giveaway.

If you want to read Google’s article, it’s here.

If you want to just go ahead get it done, click here.

Google will step you through about four screens for you to review, edit and approve various security settings for your account. You’ll know you’re done when you see a screen like the photo above.

This offer from Google expires Tuesday, February 17, 2015 and your account storage will be increased on February 28, 2015.

Don’t miss out on this free storage. Review your security settings NOW!

2 Ways to Quickly Delete Photos on Your iPhone or iPad

Oh, how I wish Apple had built this into their Photos app.

Don’t get me wrong, I love finding apps that uniquely and thoroughly solve problems or save time, but I have an aversion to app-clutter.

Especially when an existing app could have added the needed features that I can only obtain by adding another app!

I’m talking about the issue of how to manage the number of photos that we seem to collect on our iPhones.

In my experience with helping others, keeping too many photos and struggling to organize, manage and delete them is a universal challenge. And when your iPhone doesn’t have enough memory or it’s too full to back up to iCloud, the culprit is usually too many photos.

The original photos that you have taken with your iPhone or saved from a text or email are located in either the Camera Roll album or the All Photos album. Explaining why you might have one over the other is an explanation for a future article!

Deleting photos from the Photos app can be a slow process. If you have very many pictures and want to view each one as you decide whether to delete or not, it takes multiple steps.

You must swipe through the photos, then touch the trashcan when you want to delete one and finally confirm that you want to delete it. This gets old very quickly!

Thankfully, there is an app for that! It’s called Cleen, and it is a much faster way to view and delete pictures saved on your iPhone.

Clean accesses your Camera Roll or All Photos album, plus any other albums you’ve created. You select the album you want to review, and as you swipe through the photos, the direction that you swipe automatically categorizes the picture as Trash, to be kept for later, or a Favorite. If you make a mistake, it’s very easy to undo with a backwards swipe.

How to use Cleen

  1. Download the app onto your iPhone or iPad.
  2. When you open the app, you will need to allow Cleen to access your Photos.
  3. The start screen shows you the swiping actions you can use.
  4. Touch Get Started and reply to the pop-up about Notifications. I chose “Don’t Allow.”
  5. The main screen shows either your Camera Roll or All Photos album, plus any other Albums you’ve created.
  6. Touch an album to open it. Simply use your index finger to swipe and sort the photos. It’s really just a quick little flick. Swiping to the left basically does nothing. It keeps the photo in the album and moves to the next photo. Swiping up will put the photo in a Favorites folder. Swiping down will put the photo in the trash but not delete it yet.
  7. You can undo any swipe by dragging a picture out of Favorite or Delete.
  8. Photos that you did not send to Favorite or Delete are categorized as Later. They are still in their original albums, but to go through them again on Cleen touch the Later tab at the top.
  9. When you are ready to delete all the photos in Trash, touch the trash can, Delete All and you may have one more pop up for a final Delete.

****This is very important! When you delete a photo with Cleen, it will delete it from every album in which it was saved. This is different from the way the Photos app deletes from Albums.

If you have large groups of photos to delete and you don’t need to preview them individually, the Photos app does have a faster delete solution.  By selecting the Photos view instead of Albums, you can view and delete all the photos in a Moment, which the iPhone has automatically organized based on location and date.

How to delete groups of photos

  1. Open the Photos app and touch Photos in the bottom left corner.
  2. If the top of the screen doesn’t say Moments, touch a group of photos until it does.
  3. Touch Select in the top right.
  4. Touch select beside each group of photos that you want to delete.
  5. You can deselect individual photos within a selected group by touching to uncheck them.
  6. Touch the trash can and confirm that you want to delete.

How to get your deleted photos back

What if, after you’ve cleaned out your iPhone’s photos, you suddenly have “deleter’s remorse?” All is not lost. Your deleted photos are kept in a Recently Deleted album for up to 30 days and you can select photos that you want to un-delete. After 30 days, they finally disappear from your phone.

Because these deleted photos are still taking up space, I recommend that you give yourself a day or two and then open the Recently Deleted album and Delete All.