Google Is Prepared For Your Death

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Google Is Prepared For Your Death

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In the event of an untimely demise, you can still decide what happens to your Google data.

Pending the discovery of a Fountain of Youth or consciousness-uploading technology, odds are about 100% that you are going to die one day. We don't have to think about it often, but we do like to be prepared: What do we want to have happen to our belongings? What do we want to leave behind for our loved ones? In a increasingly digital world, this is a complex question. Much of our identity is now tied to social networks and online accounts, locked behind passwords on various servers. Accessing that material after death requires a great deal of red tape, so Google is side-stepping the problem by letting users personally decide what happens when they kick the bucket. At that point, accounts can either be opened up to friends and family, or deleted outright if they so choose.

The service is called the Inactive Account Manager, a fairly sterile name (which Google fully admits) for a user-friendly process. Upon activating the Manager, account holders set an interval by which they can be considered inactive, with a max of twelve months. Once that interval is reached, up to ten trusted contacts will receive automated emails and texts informing them of what's happened. Trusted contacts can also be provided access to designated portions of the deceased's data, including everything from emails, blogs, phots, videos, and more.

This is a great common-sense solution to handling inactive accounts, but it's also rare to see online. Facebook's policy, for example, requires a family member to submit proof of death before the website will recognize the deceased and memorialize their timeline. Google's solution puts control entirely in the hands of account holders, and lets them decide who can access their data. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see ideas like this adopted by other websites. After all, we may be spending more time on the internet than ever before, but we still never really know when that time is up.

And now that we're all thoroughly reminded of our mortality, here's a video of a baby meeting a puppy.

Source: Google Public Policy, via Ars Technica

Permalink

Remember me... as a colossal pervert!

So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

Introverted out the rear end... if I forgot to check my rarely used gmail account... Bam!:

"Pebkio's dead, long live Pebkio."

I especially like this:

Once that interval is reached, up to ten trusted contacts will receive automated emails and texts informing them of what's happened.

How are they informed, anyway?

"Sir or Madam, Pebkio hasn't logged into Google in six month. Perhaps you should stop by his house and check for funny smells."

Hahaha, sorry, I know that's a bit morbid, but the possibility of my death is funny. Not because it's unlikely, but because it's silly that there's a high chance Google had to let people know.

thesilentman:
So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

Not If I kill you :D besides Kross will harvest your remains and feed them to the forum hampsters.

I'd never kill you. You are still useful

8989th post!

That video of the baby gouging out that puppy's eye wasn't that adorable. Seriously, poor puppy.

Evil Smurf:

thesilentman:
So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

Not If I kill you :D besides Kross will harvest your remains and feed them to the forum hampsters.

I'd never kill you. You are still useful

8989th post!

O.O

Must... Find... Anti... Kross... Shield...

Also, how could you Smurf? We were friends! Remember the help I gave? Was it not enough?

D-:

It does bring up a good question though. I'd like to have immortality somewhere at least. :-D

I can't wait when someone famous dies just to find out they watched XXX Cup Knockers V and their browsing history containing the 2 girls 1 cup website. :P

Except I'm the kind of person who simply forgets I ever had an account somewhere. Suddenly twelve months later all of my loved ones get word that I have passed on and it was google that breaks the news.

thesilentman:

Evil Smurf:

thesilentman:
So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

Not If I kill you :D besides Kross will harvest your remains and feed them to the forum hampsters.

I'd never kill you. You are still useful

8989th post!

O.O

Must... Find... Anti... Kross... Shield...

Also, how could you Smurf? We were friends! Remember the help I gave? Was it not enough?

D-:

It does bring up a good question though. I'd like to have immortality somewhere at least. :-D

When the cats have control of the planet, you will be spared.
image

For real yo, what does happen on the escapist in the case of death?

thesilentman:
So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

I think that the icon should have RIP written over it and also a special badge is in order. Only one way to find out though.

Evil Smurf:

thesilentman:

Evil Smurf:
Not If I kill you :D besides Kross will harvest your remains and feed them to the forum hampsters.

I'd never kill you. You are still useful

8989th post!

O.O

Must... Find... Anti... Kross... Shield...

Also, how could you Smurf? We were friends! Remember the help I gave? Was it not enough?

D-:

It does bring up a good question though. I'd like to have immortality somewhere at least. :-D

When the cats have control of the planet, you will be spared.
image

For real yo, what does happen on the escapist in the case of death?

Now, now. We don't want He-Who-Must-Not-Named *cough*Daystar*cough* here, do we? The power of puppies is mine! MINE! Your kitties' plans are foiled. BWHAHAHAHAHA!!

Evil Smurf:

thesilentman:
So, what does the Escapist do for situations like these? Apply a ban or something like that?

Anyway, I need to remind myself that I'll live to an old age before I even need to consider something like this.

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. >.<

Not If I kill you :D besides Kross will harvest your remains and feed them to the forum hampsters.

I must donate my body officially to the escapist after death, just so a large box will show up on their door step ala firefly

AH HA!
I see Google's Nefarius Plan!
Google sets up a system where things get sent automatically after death.
That way when people have information that can topple governments, they upload it to Google's services so that it gets sent in the even they get silenced!
Thus basically handing Google blackmail material, which they can use to complete their conquest of the world!
TBH, I don't think we can ask for much better overlords, so I'm behind this decision.

About time somebody did something about this!
I can picture a dystopian future where nobody can sign up to anything because all the email addresses/usernames have been taken, but people who died two hundred years ago!

Fanghawk:
Pending the discovery of a Fountain of Youth or consciousness-uploading technology, odds are about 100% that you are going to die one day. We don't have to think about it often, but we do like to be prepared: What do we want to have happen to our belongings? What do we want to leave behind for our loved ones?

Stop reminding me that I'm wasting my life playing videogames, Escapist. Remember why you call yourselves Escapist!

Fanghawk:
And now that we're all thoroughly reminded of our mortality, here's a video of a baby meeting a puppy.

OH LOOK AT HIM HE'S SO HAPPY!

What is going to be interesting is when we start seeing cases of people wanting to leave behind virtual property to other people. Say giving your STEAM account to someone with all your games, or whatever else. I'm sure EULAs and stuff have some basic guidelines screaming "no" but when people start to die with thousands of dollars in virtual property or more people think like this, it's going to raise some interesting questions.

Apparently a lot of people still have substantial investments in virtual real estate that might already cause some questions given how the respective services are run. Apparently there are players of "Project Entropia" that lease out mining rights and such on their virtual islands and such for real money, and some rather lavish personal properties on "Second Life" despite the apparently diminishing interest in it. I ran into some referances recently about how one of the houses next to the Playboy Mansion and previously considered part of it's grounds was being sold for 11 million. Apparently in comparison (and this is not 100% trustworthy mind you) there is at least one island-size sex dungeon in Second Life that over a period of time has had over a million dollars invested in it, and apparently makes something like $50k a month in membership fees from pervs, and is apparently a big enough business that even Second Life's "moral reforms" have been unable to really regulate it since they need the traffic and revenue.

I'm not sure if the tech level is high enough right now, but if we get to the point where we start to see virtual spaces that are likely to hold out for decades, while things like what I've heard above might not be true, some equivilents might be. Some dude dying might want to leave control of his MMO virtual mining business, or online sex club he built on someone else's servers to his family or whatever so they can continue to get the revenue.

Of course disturbing jokes almost right themselves here, especially when you think on a somewhat smaller, but more insane scale you know like "To my son Louie, I leave my virtual babyfur masochist costume, animations, and relevent coding, along with my contacts list, so he can potentially assume my identity, maintain and continue to make money from, my online prostituion..." Okay, okay, maybe not that demented, but just think of the potential jokes that could come from some of the wierder things you've heard about coming up during a will reading.

Fanghawk:
And now that we're all thoroughly reminded of our mortality, here's a video of a baby meeting a puppy.

fuck the puppy, I have no time to waste D: *writes post on the escapist instead*

it's good to see that some companies have a streak of sense from time to time, otherwise the internet would be a far worse hell.

Wait a minute, so if I don't log into Google + for a year my family members are gonna get emails telling them that I am dead?

Yay google.....

I knew a guy that "dissapeared". few days later i found out from a friend that he died in a car accident. had it not been for that friend i would have though he ragequitted. this is very useful service in my opinion.

itchcrotch:
About time somebody did something about this!
I can picture a dystopian future where nobody can sign up to anything because all the email addresses/usernames have been taken, but people who died two hundred years ago!

Its already happening, sorta. i got Strazdas and another 4 nicsk to fall back if thats taken. on one server i ran out of all 5 since they were taken by "Dead" accounts.

MorganL4:
Wait a minute, so if I don't log into Google + for a year my family members are gonna get emails telling them that I am dead?

Yay google.....

ONLY if you set it up to do that. you have a choice not to do that.

Glass Joe:

Stop reminding me that I'm wasting my life playing videogames, Escapist. Remember why you call yourselves Escapist!

If your enjoying it your not wasting....

Well if all goes according to my plans this will never be necessary.

Also, that poor poor puppy. It's just sitting there trying to be friendly and the baby just keeps smacking it in the head for no reason. Stupid humans.

Ok, most people are seeing this as a great idea. I am not among them.

This is the Google equivalent of a suicide note. I'm clinically depressed, have been hospitalized for it before, and have thought about suicide occasionally and even had an unsuccessful attempt. Though I've done everything I can to put the more dangerous parts of that behind me, back when I was contemplating it, one of the big things that would come up is "what would happen to my emails? Would my computer be bricked? Do I have to delete all the porn off for when my parents have a technician crack it open looking for a reason? What about my online presence? How do I notify people I'm committing suicide?"

This is one problem I, personally, wish Google hadn't solved.

And yes, it's first-world and silly and makes no sense, but since when has a person thought sensibly when contemplating suicide.

I was already considering setting this up manually, but this makes it much easier.

Hopefully I'll include instructions for the dead man switch for that other thing.

edit: also, should probably have some sort of function that automatically rakes all of the dirty correspondence out of the way first

thesilentman:

Evil Smurf:

thesilentman:

O.O

Must... Find... Anti... Kross... Shield...

Also, how could you Smurf? We were friends! Remember the help I gave? Was it not enough?

D-:

It does bring up a good question though. I'd like to have immortality somewhere at least. :-D

When the cats have control of the planet, you will be spared.
image

For real yo, what does happen on the escapist in the case of death?

Now, now. We don't want He-Who-Must-Not-Named *cough*Daystar*cough* here, do we? The power of puppies is mine! MINE! Your kitties' plans are foiled. BWHAHAHAHAHA!!

I do not fear Daystar, he is just a pawn in this play for power. Cats will crush the dogs, like a cherry tomato in a microwave, or matinees in a blender.

I refuse.

No.

I am NOT going to die.

Just. No.

Never.

Pebkio:
Introverted out the rear end... if I forgot to check my rarely used gmail account... Bam!:

"Pebkio's dead, long live Pebkio."

I especially like this:

Once that interval is reached, up to ten trusted contacts will receive automated emails and texts informing them of what's happened.

How are they informed, anyway?

"Sir or Madam, Pebkio hasn't logged into Google in six month. Perhaps you should stop by his house and check for funny smells."

Hahaha, sorry, I know that's a bit morbid, but the possibility of my death is funny. Not because it's unlikely, but because it's silly that there's a high chance Google had to let people know.

I like you. You're funny.

MorganL4:
Wait a minute, so if I don't log into Google + for a year my family members are gonna get emails telling them that I am dead?

Yay google.....

Pretty much this. There's too many ways that could go bad and not enough ways it could go well. I've got accounts scattered around the internet that I haven't accessed in 5 years or more, let alone 12 months. I'm sure most people are the same way. I like the way Google gives you control over who gets access to what, though. I'm thinking there should be a combination of Google's method, which lets the deceased decide what happens to their stuff, and Facebook's method, which requires proof of death for it to kick in. If you want to make sure your websites actually get proof of your death, just put it in your will that you want your executors to go through the process.

DVS BSTrD:
Remember me... as a colossal pervert!

I hope there's an account setting for "delete my browser history."

I won't die so this is one feature I will not need.

But it would be handy for all the people whose souls I must consume to survive.

A baby and a puppy...

... who are just now embarking on their slow, doomed march to the grave. A blink of consciousness bookended by the endless dark of infinity on either side.

What's tha point of it all?

What's the point...

Sigh...

It would be nice if more sites had clear cut policies regarding things like this, especially those where digital property is involved (iTunes, Steam, Amazon, others). Unfortunately, licenses aren't nearly so permanent as actual property, and since you don't even own them anyways, it would be very easy for them to simply state that the licenses, which weren't transferable during life anyways, just expire with you on death.

As for the Google Inactive Account manager, it's not something you've got to use, and the lowest interval is a three month period, which would rule out anyone wanting to use it as some cry for help, unless you don't mind that cry for help traveling at 'media mail around the world' speeds.

My biggest concern is having it trigger accidentally because of a glitch, or that the email addresses and contact info you've used end up handing things over to the wrong people. I think simply doing it the old fashioned way and leaving necessary security information with your Will is going to suffice for most people.

I always wondered why this wasn't handled before. Cool. I can't wait to send all my porn history to my loved ones after I'm dead.

So... Let's say that I would go to North Korea for 2 years for some reason and I had this security measure in place, I would automatically tell up to 10 contacts I'm dead?

OK. With that example it might the most likely scenario but still...

Sounds like a neat idea. Not perfect but I can see its uses.

Therumancer:
What is going to be interesting is when we start seeing cases of people wanting to leave behind virtual property to other people. Say giving your STEAM account to someone with all your games, or whatever else. I'm sure EULAs and stuff have some basic guidelines screaming "no" but when people start to die with thousands of dollars in virtual property or more people think like this, it's going to raise some interesting questions.

Nothing is stopping you from simply leaving a slip of paper with all your passwords behind. It's not like Steam performs a retina scan every time you log in.

Smertnik:
Sounds like a neat idea. Not perfect but I can see its uses.

Therumancer:
What is going to be interesting is when we start seeing cases of people wanting to leave behind virtual property to other people. Say giving your STEAM account to someone with all your games, or whatever else. I'm sure EULAs and stuff have some basic guidelines screaming "no" but when people start to die with thousands of dollars in virtual property or more people think like this, it's going to raise some interesting questions.

Nothing is stopping you from simply leaving a slip of paper with all your passwords behind. It's not like Steam performs a retina scan every time you log in.

No, but in a legal sense it could become an issue of Steam didn't want to acknowlege the ownership of the account, argueing that with my passing anyone else who wanted that content should have to pay for it seperatly.

It's an odd thing to argue hypothetically, because I doubt STEAM will be involved when this kind of thing becomes an issue (but they might). Let's say they do survive for centuries and it all grows from here and they remain a digital force into the space age and beyond. At some point it's possible that an automated system if nothing else will make note that an account has been active 150 years or more or something like that, and that the original user could not possibly still be alive, yet the account is in use.

From a business perspective in the long term I could even see the issue spearheaded by companies themselves using automated search engines to watch obituaries and death notices and compare them to their business records.

Interesting. Because I have been anxiously awaiting Googles death.

Well played google, well played.

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