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Google ‘digital afterlife’ service begins

AFP-JIJI

Google on Thursday began letting people plan out what is to be done with their digital photos, documents and other virtual belongings after they die or become incapacitated.

An Inactive Account Manager can be used to direct Google to pass on data from online venues such as Google Drive, Gmail, YouTube or social network Google+ to particular people or be deleted after being dormant for too long.

“What should happen to your photos, emails and documents when you stop using your account?” Google said in a message at an account settings page. “You might want your data to be shared with a trusted friend or family member, or, you might want your account to be deleted entirely.

“Whatever the reason, we give you the option of deciding what happens to your data.”

Google lets people specify how long to wait before taking action, and the California-based Internet giant will send account holders email or text message reminders before “timeout” periods are ended.

The feature was added as people increasingly trust their data and memories to online social networks, data storage facilities and other services hosted in the Internet cloud. Facebook, for example, allows members to have accounts “memorialized” after they die.