Is your social media persona immortal?

December 4th, 2017

A poll from DIFC Wills & Probate Registry reveals what UAE residents think about their social media legacy and digital footprint

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 4 December, 2017: With more than one billion Facebook users globally, and more than 500 million daily users on Instagram, it is logical that each day thousands leave their social media accounts unattended after they have passed away. Some social media channels, such as Facebook, offer a ‘legacy’ option that allows users to pick who would look after their account in the event of their death, but not everyone is comfortable being memorialised.

In a recent poll, the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry (the Registry) asked how UAE residents want to protect their digital footprint and social media legacy. More than half of respondents (53%) have thought about what happens to their digital footprint* once they pass away, while an overwhelming majority (89%) would wish their social media account to be deactivated.  The Registry’s findings challenge a 2016 research report by the University of Massachusetts** which produced the startling statistic that, based on current Facebook trends, profiles of late users would outnumber living users by 2098.

Just under half (42%) of those questioned, said they consider their digital footprint as an asset, whilst a quarter of the respondents said they would include their social media accounts in a Will or succession plan. This suggests that thinking through what happens to your social media accounts has become a significant consideration for succession, alongside property or financial assets.

Sean Hird, Director, DIFC Wills & Probate Registry said: “In a world where many spend as much time online as offline, it makes sense that we should consider how we pass on all of our assets, including digital.  This highlights just how important it is for individuals to think about what happens to their prized possessions.  We strongly encourage individuals to start their life admin so that their assets, including digital and physical, are handled according to their wishes after death.”

For those wishing to hand over their social media assets, partners ranked as the person they would trust to run their social media as ‘legacy’ pages.  On the other hand, nearly one-in-two would not wish to give access to their mums, even when they’re no longer around to be embarrassed.

“Passing on social media account details is similar to some of the practical aspects of making a Will. This may include ensuring your beneficiaries have access to important details and passwords.” Hird added.

To prepare people for the unexpected, Friends Provident International (FPI) have published a guide titled ‘A matter of life and death’ which helps expatriates and their advisors consider the implications of an untimely demise.  The guide is also available at www.difcwills.ae.

Philip Cernik, Chief Marketing Officer, FPI said: “With the continuous evolution of technology, an individual’s online usage has become a part of their daily life admin. Whether for social media or business purposes, there are multiple accounts that we administer, and we encourage users to make a note of any online accounts, which can then be left with a trusted family member or friend.”

W&P Infographic_Social Media Legacy-14

Whilst including your social media assets is not a service available at the Registry – there are ways that you can take care of tomorrow and manage your social media legacy.

Registering a Will with DIFC Wills & Probate Registry is one of the basic steps that every individual with assets in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah or raising children here should take as part of their life planning. For more details please visit www.difcwills.ae.

* Digital footprint includes: social media accounts, messaging apps, iCloud etc
** http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/03/07/dead-could-outnumber-the-living-on-facebook-by-2098/