Identity and Online Advocacy

When are we truly dead online?: The complexities of finalising death in the online context.

For many users of social media, they may have that one person in their friends list that has passed away, but every year without fail, the platform sends out a notification to say ‘happy birthday’ to them (Pennington, 2013). Users may find this jarring and take a minute to reflect on their relationship with this person, but then continue to scroll through their newsfeed, with this moment depleting into insignificance. This example reflects the purpose of this paper in exploring an aspect of identity online that is often overlooked by users yet affects more than just the individual but the communities and networks surrounding them, death. Social media sites often have limited measures for dealing with death online, and these methods can become caught up in understandings over ownership. Matters are only complicated further when the fragmentation of identity and the lack of methods users can employ to tell separated communities of their death, without compromising their contexts, is considered. Finally, with growing options for continuing identity posthumously, what are the ethicalities in this and when do we truly cease to exist online? This paper argues that finalising death is trickier online and is supported by evidence gathered from academic journals, academic books as well as official company information. This paper is also situated within the identity part of the ‘Identity and Online Advocacy’ stream as it covers issues that relate directly to the consequences of presenting identity online. It is relevant because user perspectives are often focused on the beginnings and processes of identity online, with little thought about the conclusion, or lack thereof.

#digitaldeath, #onlineidentity, #ownership, #fragmentedself, #posthumous

Death is something people have been dealing with since the beginning of humanity. Yet, in the last 20 years at most, there has been a new side to death that previous generations have not had to deal with; digital death. Digital death in this context refers to what happens to the digital assets left by a person online when they die in ‘real life’ (Leaver, 2013). As our offline and online identities coexist simultaneously across many communities (Lingel, 2013), this raises the question of how do you truly die if your presence is forever archived and potentially revived on the internet? This aspect of identity online is often overlooked by users yet affects more than just themselves but the communities and networks surrounding them. Social media companies provide limited options for dealing with digital assets in the event of death, something most users in Australia at least, have not thought about (Southward, 2015). Additionally, given the fragmentation of identity online amongst online communities that may not be connected to our offline self, how do we tell those virtually connected to us of one’s death? Furthermore, with the ever-increasing development of technologies and services to posthumously continue people’s online identities, when does someone’s identity truly die online? Finalising death is trickier online as social media adds even more complexity to it, raising old questions of identity, community, and ownership in a new context, as well as new questions of ethicality all together.

Online, death is not at the forefront of the mind of users (Leaver, 2013), and there is a lack of options when it comes to dealing with digital assets of the deceased that satisfies both the user and their community. Taking Facebook for example, a platform where networks are often built around real-life connections, or at least through real life information given Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy (Chen, 2018), it offers users two ‘official’ options about what to do with their account when they die. Users can either have their account deleted or memorialised by providing a ‘legacy contact’ (Facebook, n.d.). When planning options for digital death, one must also consider how their singular identity affects their network of friends (Leaver & Highfield, 2018). For instance, the advantages of memorialising an account rather than having it deleted gives networks the opportunity to relive and retain memories through the mediated representations of the person (Klastrup, 2015; Radford & Bloch, 2012). Through such an exchange, a network of friends can become more so a community, gathering to mourn and emotionally supporting one another (Rossetto et al., 2015). However, if someone does not plan for their death online, there are no logical proceedings conducted by the platform, as opposed to offline. If someone dies offline without a will, the court assists with the logical flow of assets to next of kin through ‘intestacy’ (Legal Aid Western Australia, 2018). If somebody dies online, their accounts and assets merely exist as they were, unless somebody goes out of their way to directly memorialise or remove the page, which the latter option can only be done by family or the will executor (Facebook, n.d). This complicates the grieving process for the rest of network left behind as they have little say in what happens to the person’s profile. This is where RIP pages come into play, as an initiative that allows those within as well as outside of the network to grieve publicly and gives them more control over how they mourn the identity of the deceased (Klastrup, 2015; Rossetto et al., 2015).

This brings the ownership of ‘identity’ online into question and where it fits within the law. Leaver and Highfield (2018) discuss how this relationship is not clear cut given that, “identity information also circulates on primarily corporately owned platforms, subject to legal Terms of Use more so than government regulation” (p. 32). As other scholars have noted, there is a significant grey area between the law and user agreement (McCallig, 2014; Sherry, 2012), that can also be affected by geographical location of the company and the user (Edwards & Harbinja, 2013). This is especially significant for users as they often skip through the terms and conditions (Pereira & Maciel, 2013), being more concerned about the ‘social’ part of social media (Leaver, 2013). However, morally, where do we draw the line between business and the fundamentals of human life and death? How far should companies take grieving communities to access their loved one’s data (Fuchs, 2021)? Or should the media be ‘collectively’ owned, taking into consideration how networks of identities are interrelated through intangible value, each feeding into one another’s narratives, as well as each individual’s grieving process (Leaver, 2013)? It is questions and discrepancies like these that display the trickiness and the fragility of finalising death online. Although Facebook’s policy makes death seem black and white on paper, yet grey in practice, the reality is that internet user’s digital identities do not solely exist on Facebook, but with communities they know in real life.

Social media platforms and networking sites provide people with an opportunity to perform and explore multiple facets of their identity across several platforms and communities (Goffman, 1959). This can be done in a way that has no connection to their ‘offline self’, with these online identities being portrayed under the guise of full or partial anonymity (Bullingham & Vasconcelos, 2013). However, the affordances of anonymity online have meant that the degree of separation between users is heightened. Meaning that for information regarding the death of a user to penetrate the plethora of disconnected communities, it may take months or may never even get through (Gibson, 2019), this making finalising a death online amongst all publics the deceased was known to, trickier. Gibson (2019) explores the consequences for other users of such a situation on the virtual platform of ‘Second Life’. She discusses how “an emotional and existential void opens up in the lives of those who remain, feel and carry that loss” (Gibson, 2019, p. 154). ‘Internet friends’ and ‘internet communities’ were once perceived to be of lesser value to those offline (Delanty, 2018), however the experiences of those in Gibson’s (2019) study prove how this perspective is far from the reality of online users. Social media, hence the name, its inherently about more than just one’s own identity but how interactions with others affect identity formation (Goffman, 1959). This makes it a ‘co-creative’ process and may significantly increase the value and levels of emotional investment for most parties involved (Leaver & Highfield, 2018). However, despite the deep yet intangible connections users may possess online, it seems odd for members of these communities to not prepare something in advance to let others know of their passing, and instead leave them grappling with the lack of information and confirmation (Gibson, 2019).

For platforms where anonymity and no connection to other users ‘real life’ is normal, users not preparing something in advance may not be out of a lack of care but a lack of viable options. Users may not know of many methods that would not compromise the intentional separation between their identities and instead allow them to continue to avoid context collapse even after death (Davis & Jurgenson, 2014). One way around this would be through a company that could inform your online publics of when you die, and the will executor would just have to let the company know you have died (Meese et al., 2015). As straight forward as this may seem, one solution may not work for everyone and there are still many potential issues that can arise from this sort of method. Such as the reliability of the company, the responsibility of the will executor to activate the service and the deceased to remember all their accounts as well as their log in information. Thus, as Gibson’s (2019) study also reveals, it is still not the common thing to do, rather the common practice is to die with no plans in place (Southward, 2015), and with the normalisation of embracing the compartmentalised self online, this makes trying to inform or trying to find out more about a user’s death, trickier. These companies may have to develop further to become the mainstream practice for dealing with online death, however, some of the services they are working on may allow for users and their communities an opportunity to continue creating and stay connected to posthumously (Meese et al., 2015).

Given the interconnectedness between social media, identity and community, there are services being developed that extend the life of user’s post-death, however, this also complicates the question of when do we truly die? As mentioned afore, there are limited options provided by social media platforms when it comes to dealing with digital death. These options may not sufficiently cover the intangible value other networks of users had with these online accounts and content (Leaver, 2013). Leaver (2013) proposes that “emerging digital legacy management tools are increasingly providing a richer set of options for digital executors” (p. 6), allowing users to intentionally exist in their networks beyond the grave. These options can include somebody else posting on behalf of the person, companies posting content that was prescheduled by the deceased, or algorithms that can emulate the behaviour of a person based on their digital past (Meese et al., 2015). These posthumous methods may appear beneficial in theory, for example, the concept of planning content such as a birthday message, or something more profound to be released after one’s death (Meese et al., 2015). However, in practice, it raises concerns for the networks and connections left behind. It is unclear whether these companies require consent from both parties to post content to others posthumously (DeadSocial, 2014), which is ethically dangerous as people may not want to continue to have a relationship with a deceased person. Messages from a deceased individual may invoke or prolong feelings of grief and have traumatic consequences if the person was not finished processing the death (Rossetto et al., 2013). Moreover, the potential for scheduled content to no longer suits the social atmosphere or to not be considered politically correct when released, again raises issues of ownership and control (Meese et al., 2015).

One of the companies that provide such a service, DeadSocial (2014), say that ‘social media will executors’ “are not however able to view the messages entrusted to them for distribution … until they have been distributed into the public realm” (para. 6). The deceased does not have to leave the digital executors with their log in information. In the same way, it does not appear that these digital executors can delete content that may be in poor taste or age badly due to the privacy agreements between the company and the deceased (DeadSocial, 2014). This relates back to the aforementioned issue of control between users, their networks, the platforms and the legal system, as does the deceased’s ‘digital will’ (Sinders, 2016) have ultimate power over that of the communities left behind, or can it be dealt with in a court of law? Furthermore, what happens if these companies go out of business or if the living networks no longer want to receive scheduled content? Such long-term considerations demonstrate the complexities in both extending and ending identity online. Although there are new opportunities to negotiate death for the communities left behind, it ultimately makes finalising it trickier than offline.

Digital death is still a relatively new aspect of modern life that not a lot of internet users think about, despite the significant uptake of creating, exploring, and maintaining identities online across a range of communities online (Leaver, 2013). Death online is not as clear cut as Facebook’s policy assumes, with discrepancies regarding ownership and the lack of planning by users bolstering the grieving of death into a precarious position for the majority of network members left behind. This is only heightened when the factor of anonymity and the fragmentation of identity is considered. Users may perform identities online that have no connection to their offline self, leaving the communities they were a part of with no way to find out what happened to them. Although there are companies trying to fill this gap in the marketplace for dealing with digital death, they are not yet adopted by the majority of users and questions of long-term relevance as well as ethicality arise when trying to posthumously maintain someone’s online identity. Limitations for this paper include not exploring broader types of users, for example the similarities and differences of the digital death for those with larger parasocial followings online, as well as how methods of dealing with digital death can be affected by the self-presentational motivations of other’s identities. Areas for future research may include tracking the changing approaches of users towards death online based on age and usage of social media, as well as the potential growth and expansion of companies providing services relating to digital death industry.


Bullingham, L., & Vasconcelos, A. C. (2013). ‘The presentation of self in the online world’: Goffman and the study of online identities. Journal of Information Science, 39(1), 101-112. https://doi-

Chen, S. (2018). What’s in a name: Facebook’s real name policy and user privacy. Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, 28(1). 146-172. https://heinonline- &men_tab=srchresults

Davis, J. L., & Jurgenson, N. (2014). Context collapse: Theorizing context collusions and collisions. Information, Communication & Society, 17(4), 476-485.

DeadSocial. (2014). Terms of service. Delanty, G. (2018). Community (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Edwards L., & Harbinja, E. (2013) “What happens to my Facebook profile when I die?”: Legal issues around transmission of digital assets on death. In C. Maciel & V. Pereira (Eds.), Digital legacy and interaction (pp. 105- 144). Springer, Cham. https://link-springer-

Facebook. (n.d.). Request to memorialize or remove an account. account

Fuchs, A. (2021). What happens to your social media account when you die? The first German judgments on digital legacy. ERA Forum. 021-00652-y

Gibson, M. (2019). Death in Second Life. In T. Kohn, M. Gibbs, B. Nansen & L. van Ryn (Eds.), Residues of death: Disposal refigured (pp. 153-168). Routledge. https://www-taylorfrancis- martin-gibbs-bjorn-nansen-luke-van-ryn?refId=5d5ff08d-bb30-4f68-8490-aed3e3242e9f

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Doubleday.
Klastrup, L. (2015). “I didn’t know her, but…”: Parasocial mourning of mediated deaths on Facebook RIP pages. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 21(1-2),146-164.

Leaver, T. (2013). The social media contradiction: Data mining and digital death. M/C Journal, 16(2), 1-8. cialMediaContradiction_FINAL.pdf?sequence=2

Leaver, T., & Highfield, T. (2018). Visualising the ends of identity: pre-birth and post-death on Instagram. Information, Communication & Society, 21(1), 30-45. https://www-tandfonline-

Legal Aid Western Australia. (2018). Wills. answers/managing-your-affairs/wills-and-estates/wills

Lingel, J. (2013). The digital remains: Social media and practices of online grief. The Information Society, 29(3), 190-195.

McCallig, D. (2014). Facebook after death: An evolving policy in a social network. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 22(2), 107-140. https://heinonline- &index=

Meese, J., Nansen, B., Kohn, T., Arnold, M., & Gibbs, M. (2015). Posthumous personhood and the affordances of digital media. Mortality, 20(4), 408-420.

Pennington, N. (2013). You don’t de-friend the dead: An analysis of grief communication by college students through Facebook profiles. Death Studies, 37(7), 617-635.

Pereira, V. C., & Maciel, C. (2013). The internet generation and the posthumous interaction. In C. Maciel & V. Pereira (Eds.), Digital legacy and interaction (pp. 63-81). Springer, Cham. https://link-

Radford, S. K., & Bloch, P. H. (2012). Grief, commiseration, and consumption following the death of a celebrity. Journal of Consumer Culture,12(2), 137–155.

Rossetto, K. R., Lannutti, P. J., & Strauman, E. C. (2015). Death on Facebook: Examining the roles of social media communication for the bereaved. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(7), 974–994.

Sherry, K. (2012). What happens to our Facebook accounts when we die probate versus policy and the fate of social-media assets postmortem. Pepperdine Law Review, 40(1), 185-250. https://heinonline- urnals/pepplr40&men_hide=false&men_tab=toc&kind=&page=185#

Sinders, C. (2016, March 3). I spent the last 6 months planning my online death. Splinter.

Southward, J. (2015, April). Death and your digital data. LSJ: Law Society of NSW Journal (10), 38-41.

29 thoughts on “When are we truly dead online?: The complexities of finalising death in the online context.

  1. Hi Gemma,

    Your paper was insightful and informative, I was intrigued by your papers title, and I wanted to read it. I had not thought of how I would like my social media accounts to be handled in the event of my death. I found the concept of ‘digital death’ interesting as I had never heard of it. As social media and the online world is becoming more and more prominent in everyday life it was bound to be thought of what happens to one’s digital assets after they pass in ‘real life’.

    I was really surprised that Facebook now has a options for what happens to your account after your death. I find this is very impowering for an individual to be able to make the choice of what happens to their online identity after they pass. I also find comfort that your online identity isn’t automatically deleted, and your online identity is still intact, and your loved ones are able still share memories and be able to remember you in an online sense for the person you were.

    Thank you again for a really interesting read and raising this topic.

    1. Hi Mikayla!

      Thank you for your comment!

      It really is interesting how this is a topic that seems to have just been left out of the discussion when we talk about identity online, especially since so many of us are online now and thus it will probably affect all of us online at some point!

      I really agree with you that having the choice of what you want to happen to your account after you die can be really empowering for people, particularly because most things about social media encourage us to have agency online when curating our identities.

      Regarding not having your account deleted immediately after death, though this may be comforting to the deceased, it doesn’t really take into account how the deceased’s community left behind may feel. Of course, they have the option to share memories and remember your online self, but like the example I used with the unexpected birthday reminder for a deceased person, it could also be a confronting reminder that you are in fact gone. This is where we can really start to see just how complex death and identity are online, as the differing opinions of that of the individual and their community make it difficult to gauge what is considered an appropriate way to ‘die’ online.

  2. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for sharing your paper, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I found it interesting at the start of your paper how you mentioned that a user can be jarred by the experience of getting a birthday notification for someone who has passed away, but quickly recover and go upon their day as normal. I think this helps demonstrate how social media has the power to both connect and distract us from what matters in our life. Algorithms and notifications force us out of our comfort zones and make us confront uncomfortable content that we would otherwise not choose to see; but it also allows us to quickly dismiss this content and distract ourselves. Do you think this is dangerous to our society in the sense that it could make people less willing to confront realities like grief and more driven to seek entertainment?

    I agree with the points you make about how finalising death is more complicated online. The online space, despite its ever-changing nature, is very permanent. Unlike memories, which can fade over time or even become distorted, the Internet stores everything in peak condition. For the families and friends of people who have passed away, this is both a blessing and a curse. The footprint of that person remains online through their social media accounts and other online activity, which provides a constant reminder of who they were as a person. I think this could offer a sense of comfort to loved ones by providing a permanent and accurate reminder of who the person used to be. However, there is also something eery and unethical about allowing deceased users to continue existing online. The online space makes it nearly impossible to forget a person due to their ever-lasting online presence. Due to their preserved social media accounts, they are also disturbingly present in their lives long after they have passed, and I think this creates a situation where people can feel haunted by an individual. This is only amplified by the “posthumous methods” that you discuss which sustain and extend online identity by allowing others to control their online presence after they have passed. Do you think that the social media accounts of people who have died should legally need to be removed to avoid these situations?

    Thanks again for sharing your article!

    1. Hi Rebekah!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and leave a comment!

      I think that’s an interesting point that you raise, how these platform and algorithms have such power over us, dictating what we see and when we see it. This is especially significant because since these algorithms do not feel emotions, they don’t realise that showing the birthday reminder of someone being deceased could be upsetting. Of course, the algorithm may not know this person has died, but it does highlight how they only know content as a binary, what to show and what not to show, not the significance of why.

      Regarding your question, I personally do not think that this distraction that the algorithms provide is necessarily dangerous in the situation of acknowledging digital death. If anything, I would say this is rather a natural reaction to be averse to grief and to instead try to avoid it, whether this be through the means of entertainment. I do acknowledge the fact that algorithms are in some ways taking away our choice in grieving and how forcing us to do this could be reason for concern. But there will always be something that may alter the grieving process, and I don’t think it lessens the impact or significance of death. If people really wanted to, they could easily go out of their way to confront the realities of death. But is it really all that bad that people would rather seek entertainment? I know that’s what the algorithms want us to think, but maybe our perceptions towards death are simply changing overall?

      I think “a blessing and a curse” is such an accurate way to describe this aspect of identity online. It is bittersweet that it can be seen as both comforting and eerily haunting, as you say. One thing I feel worth noting however, is that I’m not sure how accurate the social media presence of a person would really be, which might affect how much comfort we can really derive from it. Social media can be used so differently, so for some people where they may post their stream of consciousness, this may be fairly representative of their ‘real self’ (although I am hesitant to use this term because what is a real self at all). But for someone who is actively selecting, editing, manipulating, and curating a social media page that may not accurately represent how others see them, but how they want to see themselves, would this be of less value? Not to mention, we live such dispersed identities across several platforms that it would logically be difficult to truly see somebody’s ‘accurate identity’ as a whole. Being the ones grieving, what aspects of someone do we want to remember? The fact is that we are even selective in our remembering. Regardless of whether this content really is accurate, and what accurate really means, it is permanent, as you say.

      I don’t think it should be up to the law to decide whether these deceased accounts should be removed. I think it is up to the individual to decide whether they would like their account to remain accessible, even if the real impact is on those left behind. I’ve discussed about this more in my response to Jordan’s comments if you’d be interest in reading about it more! One last thing though, is that I think those left behind should have some right over whether they are subject to receive ongoing communication through these posthumous methods, especially if they did not consent in the first place.

      I hope this is making sense, it’s such a large topic that links to many other large topics, so I struggle sometimes fitting it concisely into words. Thank you again!

  3. Hi Gemma!
    Thank you for such a provoking and insightful paper! I was intrigued by the title and I had to read your paper as this is a topic I haven’t thought of but it has become significantly relevant considering the number of users on social media.
    I found the concept of ‘digital death’ very interesting and is something I’ve never heard of before. It’s crazy to think that so much thought goes into not only the offline world but there has to be some thought regarding your identity and persona in the online world as well.
    You mentioned how Facebook gives you the option to memorialize an account rather than deleting it as one of its features and I find this rather comforting to know that your whole identity is still intact even after you’ve died. This really goes to show how much of an impact social media has on us even without really noticing.

    1. Hi Saranya!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper!

      We often don’t think about digital death until it happens to someone we know, at least that was my experience. We’re so often encouraged to make profiles and post all of our thoughts online, but hardly ever are we also encouraged to think about what happens to this part of our selves when we die.

      It does seem like a thoughtful feature for Facebook to offer, and it can definitely give somebody some peace of mind knowing that their identity can be preserved as it was. But even this feature is not perfect. For instance, you have to leave a ‘legacy contact’, but this can only be one person and they must be another Facebook member. It raises the question that if hypothetically, both you and your legacy contact were to die at the same time, who could be granted access to your account (Matsakis, 2019)?

      It also seems like a positive feature until you also learn that Facebook are still profiting off these profiles of the deceased (Schwab, 2019), which raises another whole series of questions (see my response to Anika’s comment where I talked about this!).

      Thank you again!

      Matsakis, L. (2019). Facebook rolls out more features for dead people. Wired.
      Schwab, K. (2019). How Facebook is designing for an incoming avalanche of dead users. Fast Company.

  4. Hi Gemma,
    I really liked your paper. Especially in the discussion about the posthumously posting, especially in the privacy agreements and the people who have had to deal with the death having to continue to see the person “living on”. I think it raises a lot of ethical issues with these systems and even creating an online presence when you will inevitably die, further the worrying issue of profiting off mourners through requiring payment for the shutting down or continuing posting for the deceased. Overall I was wondering if you thought there were major or minor ethical issues with having another ‘death’ industry that profits off mourners or the deceased. Thank!

    1. Hi Anika!

      Thank you for your comment!

      It really is an interesting area with the posthumous identity, especially from the perspective of those receiving the posts! I haven’t experienced it personally, but I imagine it would be rather unnerving and disorientating trying to remind yourself that it is not really that person actively posting the content.

      I think we as users need to be more aware that death is just as much a significant part of being online as creating and maintaining an account while we are alive are. It does raise the question about whether this responsibility of informing potential users about their digital death should fall to us as individuals or the platform companies themselves? Often touting about how easy signing up is, should they also be mentioning our inevitable digital death whilst encouraging us to upload a profile photo?

      I don’t think I would be alone in saying that there are major ethical issues when it comes to profiting off mourners or the deceased online, but more so because the reality is that we often don’t think about it from that perspective. For instance, Facebook memorialising a deceased’s page seems like a nice gesture from the platform to support the community left behind, but they are still tracking and gathering data from the interactions, ultimately to continue profiting. Now as much as this may seem like an act of immoral capitalistic ‘evil’, this kind of situation also happens offline. We have normalised funeral homes, but we don’t tend to think of them in the same, negative way. They also charge for their services, but it doesn’t seem immoral. If anything, it’s considered the moral way to part with the deceased, at least in certain cultures. So why do we find it worse when Facebook also profits off death? Perhaps it is more confronting because we don’t realise at first glance that Facebook is profiting, as we aren’t the ones paying them. These are two different examples, as offline and online environments are not always the same, but are we hypocritical in holding these differing views? With time, will Facebook’s actions become more normalised within society? The same question goes for the companies that do charge upfront to posthumously continue the identity of a person online. Will this model succeed to be as common as using a funeral home?

      Thank you again for your comment!

  5. Hi Gemma,
    THanks so much for your thought provoking paper.
    I am a palliative care doctor so deal with death professionally on a daily basis. We are SO FAR from thinking about this and dealing with it!
    I have experienced the pain of Facebook reminding me of the birthdays of friends who have died, and the agony of watching someone wish a person a happy birthday not knowing they have died.
    I have begun to see some minimal discussion of this in professional circles – your digital legacy…. it’s not in the list of things traditionally that we ask people to consider when facing a life limiting illness!
    My daughter is 13 and was recently permanently banned from a server which she dearly dearly loved. I watched her grief for the relationships she had built and imagined the grief of those left behind, because effectively she had “died”. (Perfectly clear I am being overdramatic in my description… reflective of the drama we had at home!!)
    Thanks to your paper I am thinking on the different types of death we can have.. not just our physical death, which is my work, but your social media death as well.
    Best wishes, Sonia

    1. Hi Sonia!

      What an interesting perspective you have on this topic given your field of work! I think it is so important to have discussions like these because we all bring our own insight to it and can highlight different areas that we otherwise wouldn’t have considered! It’s fascinating and rather concerning to learn that it’s not a question being asked to people in that position yet. Hopefully it becomes more prevalent over time, as more incidents and complexities are bound to arise from it.

      I really resonated when you said that the pain from seeing a deceased’s birthday reminder pop up is in some ways less than seeing someone wish them a happy birthday, unaware of their passing. I find this particularly hard to witness, because I’m not sure whether it’s my place to let them know, especially on the deceased’s birthday and especially if it has been some years since they passed.

      The example with your daughter really highlights the idea of fragmented identities that I discuss in the paper, despite it not actually being about death. It shows how we have these identities online that are not connected to our ‘real life’, but it isn’t until something happens that we become aware of the potential consequences of this. In these situations where we cannot predict our loss of access, either by being banned or by passing away, we need to recognise how this might affect others, and what possible solutions we could prepare in advance.

      Thank you for your comment, I found it really interesting to read!

  6. Hi Gemma

    I enjoyed reading you paper on this subject. It’s super interesting.

    I think along with many things such as internet ethics an online security, how an online presence is dealt with at the time of death will continue to play catch up as social media continues to grow and evolve faster than rules, regulations and policies. It certainly puts a spotlight on this.

    It is great however, that there have been some developments in this space- I had no idea! I do share some similar concerns to those expressed in other comments about third parties taking over content etc

    I also wonder why there would be an obligation to an individual’s online community and network to let them know of a person’s passing. I would imagine that an individual’s close contacts be they in person or online would be aware of such an event or at least be able to find out from another person within the community.

    In saying this, I have an extensive online network of fellow dog lovers that includes hundreds of individuals I will never meet. This included an elderly lady from the UK in her eighties who was thrilled to have a facebook connection in Australia. She was pretty good on facebook with the assistance of relatives. Sadly she fell ill and passed away last year. Her facebook community was advised via a post by her nephew on her facebook page. There was a big ‘coming together’ of her facebook community grieving her passing and sharing their fond memories of her posts – as described in your paper.
    This week I received the notification of her birthday! I found this irritating in a way but also noted the coming together once again of her online friends posting about how they missed her.

    In comparison, some facebook friends just disappear and sometimes I wonder if something has actually happened to them or have they simply deactivated their account (or unfriended me!!!) Sometimes this can be someone I actually miss, or at least I miss the content that they post…

    This and how we respond in our online communities to death is fascinating.
    Thanks for researching this 🙂


    1. Hi Louise!

      It really is such a fascinating area especially because as you say, online issues often evolve faster than the law can keep up.

      I think the need to let your community know of your passing is especially important when we look at the communities we are a part of anonymously, or those that even our close contacts are unaware we are a part of. As I discussed, for those communities where there are no ties to your ‘real life’, be that online profiles or actual physical life, they would have no way of finding out about your death. Or if you were in a community using your ‘real’ identity and name, be that online or offline, these members could search your name up. But unless your close contacts knew about your connections to this group, they probably wouldn’t think to inform them, and it then relies on these members to know who your close contacts were so they can ask. Quite a complicated process. Thus, it would be the considerate thing to organise something to let them know simply, especially if these were genuinely meaningful connections you had.

      As for your example, I think the nephew posting on behalf of her really highlights how this informing works online. Presumably, he might have been the one helping her on Facebook and was aware that she was a part of this community. Had she have been taking part without any of her close contacts knowing, you probably never would have found out about her passing, just that she stopped being active in the community. Having a way to soundly and respectfully bring an online identity to a close I feel is more beneficial to those left behind, than being left with uncertainty or feelings of helplessness.

      I think that’s also why we feel irritated when we see the birthday reminders because it means that the identity hasn’t been brought to a close, and instead we are unintentionally reminded of this every year. This again is different to intentionally posting memories of someone on our own terms, as it can be framed differently.

      Thank you for your comment!

  7. Hi Gemma

    Thank you for writing such an excellent paper on a subject that is often had to talk about.

    I have lost a few friends in the past 10 years and from a social media perspective, it has been interesting to see how the people around them use the remaining digital profiles.

    One (probably more of an acquaintance) was killed in a road accident while out training for a charity event. She was quite active on social media as was her social circle. Every year now they tag her profile in the same event (and raise money in her name) and wish her a happy birthday. It’s lovely (and sad) to see but I sure it brings them comfort in a small way to be able to include her. Her daughter actually found me via social media and occasionally contacts me to ask a few questions. I think this would have been harder if she didn’t have a profile.

    Another friend died suddenly from a heart attack. She had been having mental health issues and immediately we all went to her social media account to see if we could find some clues as many of us thought she had taken her own life. She was only 43. I find that friends sometimes still tag her in posts. I sometimes take comfort in looking at her profile and posts.

    The third friend passed away from cancer and had a shared Facebook account with her husband. A few months after she died he changed the account to just be in his name and I have to say I found that I strangely found that difficult, it was almost like a digital death, months after her actual death and I grieved for the loss of her digital profile. There are photos of her online of course, but her name has gone forever.

    I am sure since the pandemic there has had to be a lot more online grieving with people not being able to travel to funerals so watching them online and possibly expressing their grief online also, perhaps with more people being online and discovering that they can do this.

    It makes you wonder if when people are writing wills, should lawyers be encouraging people to set up instructions for their digital death? We rewrote ours recently and there was no mention of it.

    There is definitely not a lot of conversation about it, there’s not really about death either.
    Should be much more. My father died 17 years ago and I would have loved to see more of him online. For me, it is comforting to be able to look back at people’s digital footprints.

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking paper.


    1. Hi Michelle,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time and the trouble to share your experience, it has really highlighted just how important this issue is. It’s becoming more apparent that this topic is really striking a chord with people, and there so desperately needs to be more open discussion around it.

      Social media provides new opportunities for archiving and remembering life but is still so hard when it comes to actually dealing with death. Offline, there are several ways of dealing with our grief, but it seems to be more difficult online. As you express, there is no ‘one’ way that death affects us online, and no ‘standard’ way to deal with it. Depending on our connection with the person, the circumstances of the death and their actual online presence, can each have an impact on how we approach grieving a digital death.

      I come back to the need for more discussion about how we deal with this aspect of death. More than just letting these digital deaths happen and leaving individuals on their own to deal with these complex emotions, we need solutions to help decompress this online grieving. I personally don’t think ‘memorialising’ a Facebook profile is enough to truly capture all that we are grappling with when losing someone online too.

      Unfortunately, I feel this discussion won’t come until people have been personally impacted by a death online. People don’t think about it until they go through it, which is part of why I wrote this paper. For some of the first deaths of those close to me that I experienced, much of the grieving took place online, as they had been rather active online themselves. Given that I didn’t have much experience dealing with death, I found it really hard on top of this to navigate the lack of normalities online when it came to grieving. I didn’t know what would be considered appropriate, or how to interact with others virtually to share my feelings grief. If I hadn’t experienced these digital deaths and the struggles that came along with trying to deal with them, I’m not sure I would be here discussing it with you.

      I found the point you brought up about the pandemic particularly interesting, and something I didn’t consider, as I didn’t attend any online funerals (again, we tend to only think about these things if it has happened to us). Although funerals were able to take place online, from what I’ve had others tell me, is that they were not a substitute for the ‘real thing’. As soon as they were able to meet up with family and loved ones to grieve in person, they did. There are certain physical elements about grieving such as holding someone or being in a crowd of people mourning that act as markers to validate how you feel and help you come to terms with your emotions. These are thing that I think struggle to be conveyed online, as grieving online is not human enough, it doesn’t capture death to the full extent.

      In terms of the wills, I think it’s definitely something that should be considered and encouraged to be included, it honestly shocks me that it isn’t standard practice yet. If we don’t start doing this, we only set ourselves up for continuing this complexity of death online. Answers online could hopefully come from change offline.

      Thank you again for your comment. There are so many important aspects of digital death that need to be discussed, and I’m sure this topic will only continue to grow within our society.

  8. Hi Gemma,
    A very interesting paper! I myself have often wondered what would happen to our social presence once we die, and post-that, how others would be affected by a sudden ‘digital death’ (by the way, a very interesting phrase that I’ve never heard before until now). It has made me wonder if we are now required to include these considerations in our wills, by providing social media logins or ‘death-posts’, which almost seems absurd that this is what we must do in planning our deaths. Additionally, it makes me think of celebrities that have passed, and how fans, haters and everyone in between is almost constantly sharing memorable posts in honour of their passing, and how they would feel that that have not ‘really died’ online. Personally, the topic of death is a very sensitive topic, as I’m sure the same go for other’s as well.
    Very well written, researched and great topic question in my opinion – good job!

    1. Hi Layla!

      Thank you for your comment! It really is such an interesting area, and it was not until I started researching it more that I realised quite how much it affects more than just the individual.

      It’s funny that you bring up the idea of wills, as this was something that stumped me too. I tried to gauge what the ‘norms’ were for leaving social media log ins in wills, and there was no mention of it, at least from the government site, Legal Aid (2018). Wills seem to still be focused on dealing with the physical needs of death, but I feel that digital property, in this case social media accounts, must be taken into consideration, as you say. But is it really enough to just leave log ins? What do we expect the will executors to do with this? Leaving instructions like a death post actually seems like a fairly reasonable thing to do. To me, it seems absurd that it has taken us this long to realise that after living a lot of our life online, there should be a standardised way to conclude our online identity too.

      In terms of deceased celebrities, this is another aspect of death that is particularly interesting. Everybody now has a platform to share their opinion, so I think it’s something we must come to accept, that in our current social climate, the potential for ongoing coverage is significantly heightened. Whether this is what the celebrity would have wanted, really is not up to them, but we all may want to think twice before we go to post something about a celebrities’ death!

      Legal Aid. (2018). Wills.

  9. Hello, Gemma!

    I absolutely loved reading your paper, this is such an interesting topic. As someone who is quite active online and a part of a bunch of online communities, this paper made me think more deeply of what would happen to my presence online if I was to die.

    I had no idea that finalising death online was so tricky! The fact that your presence online is archived and could be revived on the Internet is such a disturbing thought. You mentioned in your paper that Facebook gives you the option to memorialise an account rather than deleting it. This sounds like a nice feature, as it is comforting to know that the memories of someone who passed away will continue to live on among their friends and families. However, the fact that if you don’t plan for your online death, your account exists as they were is quite creepy. The birthday notifications that go out might really be a shock to their friends and families. As you stated, it could “invoke or prolong feelings of grief and have traumatic consequences”. This is a sad and slightly disturbing thought.

    Going back to my own experience, I am actually quite active in fandom spaces.
    In the online world, culture traffics in many intersecting archives, enabling you to find fan fiction or fan videos of any popular TV show. Amateur art and writing can be shared through generations of changing technologies due to the archival formations of fandom in the online space (Lothian, 2012). I would have loved to see more of how the death of a person with a large following and connections in these fandom spaces impact their digital death. Particularly if they produce their own fan content and post it online. Would they ever truly be dead online?

    Overall, I think this is a great paper! Well done.

    Lothian, A. (2012). Archival anarchies: Online fandom, subcultural conservation, and the transformative work of digital ephemera. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(6), 541–556.

    1. Hi Levinia!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my paper!

      I think your choice of word, ‘disturbing’, is the perfect way to sum up this topic. Anything to do with death is often disturbing because there is so much we don’t know about it and when we are faced directly with the consequences of this, we are unsure of how to react. When there is no standard procedure in place, and it is up to us as individuals to decide what is the best practice for ourselves, or someone else, ‘disturbing’ potentially may not even begin to cover it.

      What may also add to the disturbance of digital death, and maybe take away from the ‘comfort’ that comes from memorialising profiles, is that Facebook can actually still profit off of these people after they are dead (Schwab, 2019). Facebook is a company after all, and by providing the option of memorialisation, it appears to be less out of the ‘kindness of their heart’ for those grieving, but more so for the company’s economic intentions. For me, this is where it feels like morals become murky, because people often don’t think about the bigger picture, and the fact that Facebook is not revolving around them, but ultimately is a money machine profiting of the fundamentals of life and death.

      How digital death affects those with larger followings was an area I really wanted to explore as well, as it would be completely different to everyday people like you and me. It would be a lot more responsibility on that person to consider the best practice to satisfy their audience when they die, and this would clearly be a difficult thing to do. The niche of fandom spaces and fan content producers is something I have never considered in relation to digital death, but it could definitely be interesting as there are several directions it could be taken. One such for instance being that, if other members of these fan communities continue to view and consume the deceased’s fan creations, in some regards it does allow that side of their identity to ‘live on’. These spaces where the deceased produced content and interacted with other fans would become almost sacred sites in a way, that unintentionally preserve and keep the memory of them alive.

      If you had a different approach, I’d love to hear what in particular you were thinking of as this topic is so vast and we all bring out own perspectives to it!

      Schwab, K. (2019). How Facebook is designing for an incoming avalanche of dead users. Fast Company.

  10. Hi Gemma
    Your paper’s topic is something I have often considered as someone who makes many online only friends primarily through video games. I would often think about how these people who I have had long friendships with would be able to find out if I was to die.

    The idea of companies that manage your presence after death is quite interesting as it is something that I would have never considered when thinking about handling the situation personally. I would not be surprised if services such as these became much more commonly utilised in the future with the growth of online only communities.

    I would also be interested in your opinion on weather content produced by a deceased individual belongs to the community or the user as personally I would side on the user having the right for there content to be withdrawn when they die.

    Apologies if this is oulined in the paper but I personally interpreted it as closer to a neutral stance rather than personal opinion.

    1. Hi Brodie! Thanks so much for your comment!

      Your experience of making friends through video games and thinking about life beyond the game is something I actually really relate to. I tend to think about those games that I have stopped playing and the people on there that I just stopped talked to. I wonder if they ever think about what happened to me and why I suddenly stopped playing. Did I die? They would never know. It almost feels like a dream thinking about these people now, it’s like I forget that they were real people, and not just players in a game. Maybe if I had realised this back then, I would’ve kept in contact or let them know that I wanted to stop.

      I think you’re not alone in never considering third parties to keep your identity alive posthumously, as it goes against everything that we thought we once knew about death. It’s only really been an option in the last 15 years at most, but as you say, I’m sure they will expand in usage in the future.

      In terms of my own opinion on the ownership of a deceased’s content, I also believe that they should have the right to remove their content, but ideally it should be acknowledged as being owned by the community. I think that especially on social media, the affordances of these platforms are design for us to ‘live’ our life connected to others. For example, on a person’s Instagram profile, you can see their own posts, and in the tab next to it, you can see their ‘tagged’ photos. We’re really encouraged to include others in our personal narrative online, and so if one of these people dies and has their own narrative removed, such as a photo you were tagged in, this directly affects your narrative.

      Given that my view differs from yours, I’d love to hear more about your opinion and where you’re coming from! Thanks again for the comment!

      1. Hi Gemma,

        Thanks for the reply, I found your take on the ownership of posted content quite interesting as while I strongly sided with the personal ownership and right to remove content but your point has somewhat swayed me. I had not considered that by involving others in your content you where inherintly almost handing some ownership over to them.

        When reading your take I began to make a comparison between posted content in online relationships and memories in offline relationships. This made me consider online posts in a different light as in offline relationships even after an individual has deceased memories are left behind with those who knew the individual and in a way posts could be seen in the same way meaning that users should have some right to maintain them just as they do with there own memories.

        1. That is such an interesting point you raise, and it actually made me consider this from the other perspective. Offline, we can’t record every conversation we have with somebody, we can only recall certain moments or things they have said. When they die, we don’t lose these memories. Similarly, by deleting someone’s content online when they die, it also doesn’t take away those memories you made online, even if you can’t access them anymore. I suppose the nice thing about keeping them online is that you can go back to them and relive the moment, which is something that I imagine many of us wish we could do for real life memories too.

  11. This was an amazing read! and a topic I have thought about many times as some of my favourite artists over the past couple of years have passed away and their social media platforms have become almost a message board for like minded people to share their grief, pain and even joy over past experiences and memories. You raised a very good point about the cause of further grief from social media accounts remaining active posthumously, I have experienced this on many occasions where I have been on instagram and artists such as lil Peep have “gone live” on Instagram, giving me a brief thought “wait what?!” Only to be reminded that his account is now run by his mother who uses the account to communicate with die hard fans who continue to visit the page more than 3 years after his death.

    There have been many knock-on effects from this extended life offered by social media such as the rise in popularity of the posthumous album (Pearce, 2021). Over the past few years we have seen many rising artists die before they are able to release final projects, such as; Mac Miller (Circles), Lil Peep (Everybody’s Everything), Pop Smoke (Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon) and Juice WRLD (Legends Never Die). This has caused great debate over whether these should be released or not as the artist is no longer there to make the final creative decision to publish the work, with record labels using an artists social media page as an indication that there is still an audience wanting more content.

    I am certain we will see huge developments in within this topic as social media becomes more and more intertwined within daily life than it already is now. I hope that we will one day be able to handle this in a respectful way that honours the passed while offering ways for others to interact (or not) with these people.

    Pearce, S., 2021. The Perils of the Posthumous Rap Album. [online] The New Yorker. Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2021].

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment! This was something that initially drew me to the topic too, how the social media accounts of famous celebrities were just left as they were after they died, and how fans still come back to these profiles to leave their messages, years on. What I find interesting with this, is how whatever their last post was about, becomes such a significant moment captured in time. Even if the content of the post was mundane, which on social media often tends to be the case, it’s still organically them. An example that comes to mind is Naya Rivera, with her last Twitter post being a picture of her and her young son. This can really affect the tone of the account and the celebrity’s passing as a whole, for better or for worse, but I struggle to put this feeling into words. I guess we just don’t often think when we post something, that it could be for the last time.

      The posthumous album example you bring up is something that I would love to look into further. I think it’s becoming more accepted to use social media posthumously in this way, and probably is an aspect that is being written into the musician’s contract with these record labels as these accounts still hold marketing value. What I find particularly interesting is when we start looking at artists who died before social media really existed. For example, John Lennon died in 1980, but his management/estate are also using social media today, in his name, to promote his music. Is this what John would have wanted? Is it again a contractual thing that he agrees to his identity being adapted to whatever format is popular in the future? I’m not really sure of the legal side of things, but it is an interesting moral question to ponder.

      As you say, I’m sure this topic will only continue to grow, especially as the generations that have lived their entire life on social media begin to grow older themselves. Thank you again for the comment, I really enjoyed reading it!

  12. Thanks very much for your paper Sabbadini, I was hooked as soon as I read the title. This is an area that I’ve always found really interesting.

    Personally, I have found that social media accounts have provided a new avenue for grievance that was not previously possible. When somebody passes, all that people can think about a lot of the time is the fact that they have gone and it is sometimes hard to look past this and appreciate the person that they were. The digital presence they leave behind helps with this though, it allows those who were connected to the deceased to scroll through a digital epitaph that was curated by the person they have lost, a digital epitaph created without the cloud of death hovering over it. While this is akin to perhaps looking through a photo album containing pictures of the deceased, I think there is something more to it than that. I believe this is the case because in the modern day, the online presence we create somewhat becomes a part of who we are, not just a reflection caught in an image. This being the case, when we leave that digital presence behind, we allow others to connect to that part of us as if it is something that continues on living.

    It’s for this reason that I have concern around the discussion of 3rd parties taking over the digital presence of the deceased, as you have discussed here. While of course, everybody grieves differently and I think that this could benefit some people, by enacting a system wherein the digital presence of the deceased appears to remain active posthumously, it alleviates the authenticity of that digital presence. No longer is their digital presence a glimpse into who they were when they were alive, it is immediately cast over by the cloud of death that hovers over the rest of the tributes laid out for that person.

    Again, I’m very grateful for your paper, it was very well written and raised some very though provoking points.

    1. Hi Jordan,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my paper!

      I definitely agree with what you’re saying, in terms of grieving, I think social media has been revolutionary. Having a ‘virtual memory book’ of more than just photos, but interactions and self-published content to look back on moments of a person’s life, rather than just their death, has been invaluable.

      But something I think is particularly interesting, is that this option of allowing people to scroll through these digital remains, and virtually continue to live on, is largely dependent on the deceased themselves. If a person chooses to remove their posts, or wants their account deleted after their death, no one can control that but them. A case that highlights this is that of Blair Newman in the early 1990s. It’s hard to find much about it now, but essentially, he deleted all his posts from the social network platform at the time, ‘The WELL’, before committing suicide shortly after (Rheingold, 1993). Whether this was selfish of him to delete his posts, rather than leaving them for people to scroll through in mourning, given that people had their own connections to the content, I don’t think I am in any position to say, but whether a person’s content stays available to scroll through, that decision ultimately lies with them. But, more often than not, people do not plan for their digital death, and thus their content remains online for presumably ever, open for anybody to scroll through, which can be really helpful in grieving, as you say.

      I also really love how you put this, “by enacting a system wherein the digital presence of the deceased appears to remain active posthumously, it alleviates the authenticity of that digital presence”. That is exactly why I also tend to think that these planned options of posthumously living detract from the actual usefulness of social media as a platform that captures the organic and unedited life of a person. When we look back on the posts they made when they were alive, we have our own memories attached to it, but it’s harder to make memories with a dead person.

      Thanks again for the comment!

      Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community.

      1. Hi Gemma,

        Thanks so much for your reply.

        You make an interesting point about the Blair Newman case of 1990, especially when you say “Whether this was selfish of him to delete his posts, rather than leaving them for people to scroll through in mourning, given that people had their own connections to the content, I don’t think I am in any position to say”.

        I guess this leads to the argument of whether or not it could be considered selfish by the deceased to remove posts from their digital presence. Personally, I sit more towards it being selfish. I think this is mainly because I do not believe that it is the deceased’s privilege to curate how those they leave behind should grieve for them. For example, while the deceased will commonly have a say in a lot of aspects of their funeral procession (Especially in the case of those who have had to bear with a prolonged case of terminal illness), they do not generally have a say in the eulogies that would be written about them, or perhaps the photos that will be displayed of them that might have been chosen by those who were close to them.
        These eulogies, or the memories chosen to be displayed by those who were close belong to those who were close, not the deceased, as it is a part of their grieving process.

        In a similar way, by deleting or disrupting the authenticity of their own digital presence prior to their death, the deceased is essentially tampering with the memories of others who may have wanted to connect to those memories once the person who owns the digital presence has passed and as you’ve said above, these memories are something to be cherished as ‘it’s harder to make memories with a dead person.’

        Thanks again for your reply, this is not an area that I have put much thought into previously and so I am finding the dialogue around it very intriguing.

        1. Hi again, Jordan!

          Thank you so much for your response, it was so interesting to read! I’m also glad you’re finding this topic intriguing! I’m finding it so rewarding to discuss it with people because we all bring our own perspectives and experiences to it!

          If I were to say in general whether I think it is selfish, I think I would tend to side with yes as well, but I completely agree with the right for users to delete their own content. There is definitely a fine line between what is an appropriate amount of curation you should do to your online presence post-death, and what may be considered as overly interfering with how those left behind get to remember you. I think a final ‘death-post’ that acknowledges the death of someone is actually quite a respectful way to conclude your online identity, as it leaves the previous content as it was, even though it is now shrouded by this overhanging reminder of their passing.

          To have all your content deleted, though it seems extreme, I can also understand this perspective. Would I want to be remembered for those cringey posts I made when I was 13? Absolutely not. But would others have a connection to these posts and want to remember me this way too? Potentially. It poses the question, that because it is your identity, should it be up to you to decide how you want to be remembered? Or as you say, should you be thinking of those left behind, because they are the ones who will actually be left with this memory of you? Is the grieving process of the network more important than the agency of the deceased individual when they were alive?

          I think the difference between the funeral example that you raise and social media, is that social media is archived and is (usually) always available. You might not feel the need to involve yourself in how people remember you at a funeral, as it may last only for a few hours, and after this, people likely won’t remember the eulogy or the photos that were used. However, on social media, people can always refer back to your profile, and these photos stay fresh in their mind. Therefore, you might want to have some more control over this as the lasting memory of you.

          Digital death is such an evolving space, and as more of us with an online presence die, we are only just getting to terms with it. We are far from solid answers to these complex moral dilemmas, but I think discussion like this is both necessary and invaluable! Thank you again!

          1. Thanks Gemma,

            Again, thanks for the discussion on this, I have really enjoyed reading your replies!

            You raise a really good point about my funeral example. It is the impermanence of such a service that leads it to being more curated by those surrounding the deceased, rather than the deceased themselves. What you said here really got me thinking about the fact that a digital presence following one’s death is a lot more permanent than the regular grieving processes (In this case, a funeral).

            It leads me to think differently around the fact that due to this permanence, perhaps the deceased should have some control over the digital presence they leave behind rather than leaving it completely un-edited and ‘Raw’.

            The point you raise around the ‘cringey posts from when you were 13’ is a good highlight of this. Although, like you say, even though they are cringey, and you wouldn’t necessarily want people remembering you through them, a lot of people would have potentially good memories attached to such posts, and I think it would be a shame to take that away from them.

            It’s definitely a tricky topic and has given me a lot to think about. Thanks again for the discussions here and the paper overall, was my favorite of the conference!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *