June 1, 2012

If you're following someone on Twitter and then you die...

... you keep following them. Forever.

Just noticed a name listed as a "follower" of a politician who's done some new things since the person with that name died. Seems wrong.

When you estate-plan, you need to authorize someone to "unfollow" for you, or you'll be a virtual ghost, wandering aimlessly after people, unable to break free.

29 comments:

Original Mike said...

"When you estate-plan, you need to authorize someone to "unfollow" for you"

You won't care. You'll be dead.

BarrySanders20 said...

Regarding "virtual ghosts,' Judge Posner included something similar in a case decided this week. It was an immigration case where the defendant had violated a previous deportation order by re-entering the US. Here is the line from Posner:

"It seems he doesn’t take removal seriously. He is an immigration yo-yo, see United States v. Carlos-Colmenares, 253 F.3d 276, 279 (7th
Cir. 2001), a veritable revenant."


rev•e•nant
noun
1. a person who returns.

2. a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

Leo said...

It's sad that internet companies don't talk much about how we should deal with mortality on their sites.

KLDAVIS said...

Check out the site DeadMansSwitch.net. Send e-mails from beyond the grave...very cool.

traditionalguy said...

So that's what the "Cloud" means: disembodied digital identities forever lost in cyberspace, except on election day when they once more roam the earth in polling booths where they get a brief glimpse of their Democrat Master.

Crack needs to look into this!

Jon said...

Althouse said: ... you keep following them. Forever.


And then when they die, your ghost is following their ghost. Forever. Or as long as twitter lasts, anyway.

Chip Ahoy said...

I was unsatisfied with Photobucket's answer to this. Their customer service wrote that a pro account reverts to a regular account when the pro account stops being paid, and that did not answer my question about early photos being protected.

Ha ha ha these CAPCHA Turing corollary things are sweet. This one is a cell phone shot of 10 Downing Street door.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RonF said...

E-mail accounts. Encrypted data. All kinds of things that you have passwords for that no one knows but you.

tim maguire said...

In the grander sense, Original Mike is, of course, right. Who cares what happens to their online persona after they're dead? I can imagine few things less worth my time and energy.

In a more superficial sense, I like the feeling of immortality. In fact, I'd like a feature that lets me continue to make tweets after I'm dead. Wish people happy birthday, virtually haunt some old friends.

That'd be cool.

Ann Althouse said...

I like the feeling of immortality in some ways. I want the blog to stay up. (One reason I'm still on Blogger: free + Google seems like a better bet than the alternatives.) I don't mind having Facebook "friends" who are dead. I guess I don't mind ending up as other people's dead Facebook friend, since they can unfriend me if they don't like having a ghost-friend.

But something about following is creepy. It's creepy even when we're still alive.

Mitchell said...

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.

Christian said...

Maybe the Mormons can do it after they baptize them :)

gerry said...

a virtual ghost

A virtual anything is really just an image od something real, so is this a ghost ghost?

Paddy O said...

Is that where Sir Archie went? To Twitter?

Lonetown said...

How about an app to make up and tweet phrases for you. You can be a max headroom!

MadisonMan said...

Facebook friend died in a tragic accident. Facebook still notified me of his birthday some months later.

It was oddly comforting.

Rob said...

The knowledge that some Twitter followers are undead is exhilarating. (Or should we say they're both dead and undead, very much like Schrödinger's cat?)

What a host of possibilities this creates. The LDS Church permits baptism of dead ancestors. Why can't Twitter and Facebook allow user accounts for dead ancestors? Once the silent majority become users, the market caps of those companies should skyrocket. It's good for Twitter and Facebook, good for the people the undead follow and friend, and good for the undead themselves, who gain a voice in cyberspace and a connection to the world of the living. Win-win-win, and without spending a nickel of government money.

I'll be waiting by the phone for my call from the Nobel Committee.

robinintn said...

which makes me wonder, what happens to my kindle books? or my itunes songs?

edutcher said...
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edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

In Unix, that's known as a Zombie process.

Ann Althouse said...

I like the feeling of immortality in some ways. I want the blog to stay up.

The blog's a fine and private place,

Where all with Meade and Ann embrace.


Apologies to Andrew Marvell.

Unknown said...

Tim and Mike,

Estate planning is not really for you...as you said you will be dead. It is for those around you.

While the soft reminder of a deceased friend's birthday is comforting to some, it is disturbing to others.

And, while Ann only touches on the undead Twitter followers, Chip Ahoy touches on a much more important matter - who gets access to those photographs? Many people find it a little disconcerting that pictures of the recently deceased could be gone - the old non-tech days, those pictures were in a draw for photo album.

Further, Ann has a valuable asset in her blog - certainly worth some money - some twitter accounts also likely have value. Who do you want making the decision on what to do with that value?

Original Mike said...

I don't do Facebook or Twitter.

"Problem" solved.

sleepless nights said...

Very few people actively use their twitter for very long.

You can have a ton of accrued followers, but the ratio of real interaction levels off.

Note: these word verifications just got harder - and less fun. I am now positive the spam programs can read them better than I can.

Lem said...

Dead people have been voting for years.. don't see the problem..

Tweets are dead at birth.. they are ephemeral... Esmeralda.. now there is a name for a girlfriend... or a wife.

(nttawwt)

cf said...

Sounds like an entrepreneurial venture to me, to add to mortuary and/or insurance policies.

Anybody wanna go in?

Rockport Conservative said...

I have a niece who died 4 years ago. We did genealogy together, we started online back in the early use group days up until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 4 years before she died. I have not been able to get into the genealogy groove again and one reason is the fact there is so much out on the net in her name and my name, our names together. Any work I do will call something of it up. It opens the wound. Her My space page is still there, all the notes she wrote on genforum and other genealogy sites, it is all there and it is painful.

Jane said...

I keep getting encouraged by facebook to "friend" a lady who died two years ago. "Here's somebody you might know ..."

Well, when I see that, I just pray for her grown daughters and young grandchildren.