A certain young lady on her way to her National Youth Service Corps got involved in a road accident and unfortunately lost her life. She was the pride of her parents having lived an exemplary life and graduating with excellent honors in University. Her parents now having to deal with loosing their daughter are now resigned to holding on to every bit of memory of her they can get.
In their time, all they probably would have done was look at her diaries, private note pads, picture albums to preserve her fondness and legacy. But things have since changed, younger people no longer rely on such tools to document their experiences, they use the internet.
The social media ease and downside
Facebook, Youtube etc are a lot more effective and easy to share. However, she is dead and only her had access to her accounts, a situation that has ironically made matters worse for her parents. How can they now have access to all her online assets.
This unfortunately is the same situation most of us might find ourselves in these days of social media presence. Nowadays, we all have various social media accounts where we share pictures, blogs, articles, opinions, videos, ideas, gossips, music, history etc. Just think about it, pretty much everything we do today is represented in our emails, Facebook, flickr, twitter, blogger, tumblr, paypal etc.
Something to think about
It’s a lot of information that posses inherent value even if we do not know how to monetize them. Imagine that you own a blog where loads of information has been stored over time with value proportionately built with it? How would you want that value utilized should you no more be alive?
Those pictures, videos that you religiously upload everyday, what happens to them? Do they just go extinct in the guise of guarding privacy covenants with service providers? What about your paypal account or your page account? Who gets the benefit of it when you pass on? Its a risk that exist that we all are not familiar with.
[DO YOU KNOW: The top 10 items imported and exported from Nigeria]
The Online Will
I believe all this can be easily mitigated if we simply just kept an ‘online will’ that provides family with detailed instruction of passwords, right to online materials such as pictures, videos, blogs, articles, manuals, books etc. These are all assets and should be treated as one will treat land and building, intellectual property rights, money, shares etc.
Websites who provide such services also have a role to play by providing users with options on transfer of account information in case of death or brain damage. I once read sites like ‘Legacy Locker’, ‘Entrustet’ provide users with a plan for online life after death. Even the government has a role to play by being proactive in enacting legislation and regulation that aid proper transfer and utilization of online assets over time.
Nigeria, for instance, has over 5 million Facebook users and millions more on several other online social media platforms like Skype, Youtube, Yahoo etc. This is a tremendous wealth of ‘information asset’ that the country can immensely benefit from yet the power to unlocking that value lie in the hands of service providers that pay their taxes to foreign governments.
China, the country with the highest population in the world have their own version of twitter and Facebook as Sina Weibo and Renren to give their users a lot more freedom to operate than their foreign counterparts. Nigeria, the country with the highest population in Africa should replicate that.
For some of us who fervently use online services to share experiences it is incumbent on us to realize that when we die our experiences, photos, videos, money, blogs, messages etc may die with us, rather than live after us. Our legacy and asset must continue to thrive despite the inevitability of death.
BEWARE: This article was earlier published in 2012 and has purposefully been revamped for public education –on July 26, 2019