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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If you die, who gets your Facebook account? NH bill would give it to your heirs

A proposed law in New Hampshire would give an estate's executor or administrator control over somebody's social media and electronic communication sites when they die, turning this digital ephemera into a legal entity.

Here's the Union-Leader story, which notes that legal issues exist (death automatically anulls contracts, and to a lawyer, your Facebook account is a service contract) as well as ethical ones (do you really want your kids to see all your emails?).

Facebook has a vague policy about turning accounts of dead people into semi-frozen memorial sites (see this Facebook blog post) but it's a tricky issue. My oldest friend died a few years ago, and his Facebook page proved to be a good place for his far-flung friends who didn't know each other to talk about him; but it also became a bit contentious when one friend got control of the page for a while.