Daily VideoMarch 12, 2013
What Happens to a Facebook Page After Death?
In the age of the Internet and social media, many people are storing massive amounts of personal information online using Facebook, Twitter and other accounts. However, what happens to this information when a person dies is still a matter of legal contention.
Although approximately three Facebook users die every minute, there is still no one method or law on the books for how beneficiaries can gain access to a deceased person’s digital records.
For Virginia dairy farmer Ricky Rash, this meant that he could not access his 15-year-old son’s Facebook account after he committed suicide in 2011.
“Once he gets an electronic account that’s password-protected, it’s — he’s entitled to free speech,” said Rash. “He has entered into a legal and binding contract with the social media sites.”
Businesses like Facebook prevent access to personal pages because of a 1986 federal law that prohibits companies from sharing a person’s information, even if it is stipulated in their last will and testament. Simply handing over passwords in a personal will violates most social networks’ terms of service.
While five states have acted to pass digital asset laws, Congress has no current plans to take up new federal legislation on the matter.
“The laws have just not kept up with technology. And what really frustrated us was when we learned that, as a minor child, his parents do not have access to his online accounts,” – Ricky Rash, father.
Warm up questions
1. What determines what happens to a person’s possessions after they die?
2. What do you think happens to someone’s Facebook page after they die?
1. What do you think should happen to a person’s social media sites after they die?
2. Do you think social media sites should be able to withhold information from parents? Why or why not?
3. Do you think this is a matter of free speech? Why or why not?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Filmmakers and journalists are using virtual reality to trick audiences’ brains into believing that they are in a new environment. Continue reading
Lolita, an orca at the Miami Seaquarium, was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970 and has lived in captivity ever since. Continue reading
The United States and the island nation of Papua New Guinea are unique as the only two countries that do not guarantee paid time off for new moms to care for their infants. Continue reading
At a high school in Oakland, California, students learn how to deliver a baby and tie a tourniquet as part of an education philosophy that emphasizes real-world health issues and skills. Continue reading
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called attention to the plight of the middle class and laid out his plans for changes to education policy. Continue reading