The researchers discussed how to handle the social media accounts of deceased people at the AAAS annual meeting. Technology enables people to continue to exist in new forms after death. There are currently no consistent rules on how to deal with the vast amount of personal information and genetic records left on the Internet after death. Social media and other apps and websites aggregate a wealth of personal data, while people’s genetic records continue to exist in the biosample library.
Facebook can generate a memorial page on a user’s home page after they die, allowing users to designate a contact to take care of their account after their death, while Google allows users to establish a trusted contact who will have partial access to the deceased’s account. However, these preparations will only work if the parties have completed the required settings in advance – and the rules vary from company to company. The researchers believe that the whole society needs to be more open about what rights people should have about the numbers and genetic information they leave behind after their death, and that individuals should decide what their wishes are.