The search engine giants Google have unveiled a new service that will allow the relatives and partners of account holders to inherit their online legacy, with users now being invited to set up their own digital ‘wills’.
Announcing the project, known as Inactive Account Manager, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk conceded that ‘not many of us like thinking about death’, and that this is especially the case when considering our own or that of those closest to us. However, in an increasingly digital world, it is important that people begin to make provisions for what happens to their online profiles once they have gone.
Although perhaps not as tangible a memorial as gravestones, a person’s YouTube, Google+, Gmail and Picasa Web Albums history can tell us a great deal about the deceased, and the parent company of these services feels that browsers should now have the opportunity to either have their online presence completely removed or managed by the family members and friends of their choice.
The Inactive Account Manager works by sending a text message and email to a user once their account has been inactive for either three, six or 12 months and, if this is not responded to, the programme will assume the person in question has passed away. After this, the account will either be deleted or handed over to a ‘trusted contact’, depending on the wishes of the deceased.
Certainly one of the more unusual forms of memorial care available, this new service from Google is nevertheless a well-considered and important one in today’s high tech world.