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How to Manage Your Online Identity When You’re Terminally Ill


When you’re dealing with mesothelioma or another terminal illness, it is important to make sure your family knows all of your plans. Gathering your important documents and any paperwork and leaving behind a will help ensure your plans are carried out exactly as you wish.

There’s one aspect that is often overlooked in the Internet age. Have you thought about what to do with your online life? With so many social media channels, there might be more of your personal information on the Internet than you think. You should consider asking a family member to manage these accounts if you become too ill or pass away.

The most important thing to consider is exactly which accounts you have online—as well as the login information for each. You need to document all of this information and share it with a trusted individual. This will allow the person of your choice to carry out your wishes for these accounts.

Some social media sites have recently introduced options for legacy accounts. For example, Facebook allows you to choose a legacy contact person and determine what you want him or her to do with your account after you have passed. There are several options, including leaving your account open as a memorial where friends and family can continue to post comments in your memory. Other choices include permanently closing the account, or even adding messages to the top of the timeline for memorial services or family announcements. Google has also unveiled an account option called Inactive Account Manager, in which you can direct in advance how to handle the account if it becomes inactive.

Here’s a link to change or update your chosen legacy contact for your Facebook account:

Here’s a link for the Google Inactive Account Manager, which walks you through the options for your Google accounts.

If you have a blog or website, you may wish to discuss with family members how to proceed with the content. The more specific you can be about your plans for these online sites, the easier it will be on your family or your legacy contact. You may also have other accounts on sites such as eBay or Amazon that you should include on your list.

Many photo services or computers back up their content to the cloud. Your cell phone or tablet may also send your information to the cloud, including important files and photos. You should share this information with your family as well. Tell them which files are important and how to access them. Many of these services will have an option to assist you in determining what information they store and how it can be accessed.

There can be a lot of information to consider about managing your online identity. Here is a link that lists relevant websites that will help your legacy contact manage your accounts and digital content.

Some people may not be comfortable with family members logging in to see their email accounts or social media profiles. If you prefer, you can always choose to close these accounts and delete them at any time.

The rise of online social media has given us better access to family and friends than we have ever had at any other time in history. With a little bit of planning, you can ensure that your online wishes are carried out just the way you want.

Sean O'Brien is a sponsored contributor to Mesothelioma Help Now.