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What happens to someone's online data after they die? © Getty Images

What happens to someone's online data after they die?

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Your Facebook profile may just outlive you.

Asked by: Rong Jie Loo, Malaysia

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Each company that stores the data may have a different policy. If the person was paying a subscription to a website to store their data, then once the subscription expires, the data will probably be deleted. For free sites, anything can happen. For example, Yahoo! refused to hand over emails of a deceased son to his parents, despite being ordered to do so by a court.

However, Facebook has a policy to change the deceased person’s profile into a memorial page, if a family member notifies the company. Friends and family can then visit the page to share their experiences, express their sadness, and celebrate the life of the person.


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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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