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Facebook after death: Should family get deceased's social media passwords?

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Mr. Sullivan told the AP he filed the bill after learning of a bullying case in Canada that led to a teenager's suicide wherein those who bullied the teen posted on her Facebook account afterward. Sullivan’s bill would let family "step into the shoes of the deceased" and control posts. “The presumption would be that the family's rights trumped those of the service provider,” he said.

When it comes to social media, it is a legacy, sometimes a bad one. Many may value the privacy of their messages, tweets, and images beyond that of more tangible assets because feelings and relationships are often involved. Even after death some of us would prefer our families not be privy to our chat logs and personal message threads, and so the battle for cyberspace A.D. heats up.

There are alternatives already available including Entrustet, a free service that enables an account holder to pass on digital assets to up to 10 designated heirs and one executor, who is in charge of executing a person's digital wishes after they pass away. Digital assets include social networks, financial accounts, blogs, e-mails and other Internet properties or files. For other online solutions see http://mashable.com/2010/10/11/social-media-after-death/

Still, as a parent, I would certainly hope the family’s rights to stop bullies would trump those of a service provider and if they don’t currently they certainly should. I have always insisted my sons who are under 18 put all their passwords in a family book I keep. And while it chafes them, it has also saved them when they forgot the codes.

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