Have you ever wondered what is going to happen to all the digital traces of your life after you pass away? To be honest, most of it will probably be available, and searchable, at least until they are de-indexed by search engines. However, a new start-up called WebWill hopes to at least close off the social networking parts of your life.WebWill
is a Swedish start-up. Here's how they describe themselves in a blurb on their homepage:
We live an increasing amount of our lives on-line, but what happens after we are gone? What will happen to all our photos, blogs and social network accounts? Until now our digital identities have lived on without us, leaving our loved ones powerless to control them or wind them down. Webwill is a new service to change that, putting you in control even in the afterlife.
The site is still pretty bare, but the company has a video explaining the program (below). The service will run on a "freemium" model, whereby simple deactivation of your accounts will be free. The paid version, about $30 annually, or $200 as a one-time fee, will add customization, such as delete this account, or put a final photo or post up on MySpace, and the like.
Sweden and Germany have a national registry that tracks people living in the country. In those areas, WebWill will cross-check their own database against the national registries weekly. In countries like the U.S., they will use verifiers: two people who will inform them of your demise; they will also need a death certificate. The company will launch in private beta next month in the U.S. and Sweden.
It's definitely a niche market, and the question is will anyone buy into it? There are people who are super-devoted to their social networking presence who might opt for this. If there was a way to ensure that passwords for online banking and other financial accounts were made available to survivors, we know of several who might be interested. Currently that information is track manually by these folks, and it is becoming a bit unwieldy. It does seem, from their description, that sort of functionality might be available.
Watch a video by the founders explaining WebWill. In this video they call the program "MyWebWill," which is their site's URL, but the site calls it WebWill.