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Quarter of Brits want ‘data death’ when they die

Many worry their social media accounts could upset loved ones

One in four (24%) British people would support “data death” when they die, a poll suggests.

The study by life insurance broker LifeSearch reveals one in 10 (12%) people are worried about the fate of their digital accounts after they die, while 92% have not told their loved ones their wishes for their digital presence after death.

People’s concerns stem from a range of factors including worrying that social media and email accounts could be hacked and upset loved ones (44%), not wanting private data and messages to become available (40%) and preferring certain elements of profiles to be automatically deleted (40%). 

Currently, when a person passes away their loved ones can face substantial paperwork to deactivate social profiles and mail accounts. Processes differ between sites and providers, but can include having to provide death certificates, sharing copies of ID, filling in forms and giving extensive information about the deceased. 

The survey also found two in five (39%) people said they would like to be able to leave friends and family a digital legacy, where they can access certain assets such as music, photos and subscriptions.

LifeSearch is seeking to prompt conversations about such issues as part of its Let’s Start Talking campaign, which encourages the nation to be more open about the subjects that make them uncomfortable, including death, illness, money and mental health.

Emma Walker from LifeSearch warned that avoiding essential conversations about our digital life after death could leave loved ones locked out, unable to take control or at the mercy of hackers should the worst happen. 

“Protection all starts with one open, honest conversation so we’re urging the nation to start talking openly and honestly – if awkwardly – about these issues that matter most, to not only safeguard their family’s future, but their own too,” she said.