Do I want an online memorial set up in my name after my death?
There are many companies that now offer online memorial services. These services may be offered as part of a funeral package or as a separate service. The providers of these services may be located in Australia or any other country. Typically, the sort of features that are offered include the following:
- Profile page of the deceased person
- Photo and video publication
- Obituary publication
- Comments; usually open to the public but moderated by the service provider
- QR code (or advanced barcode) that can be placed on publications or even the gravestone of the deceased that allows individuals to easily find the memorial page
- The ability to interact with the memorial page through such activities as lighting a virtual candle or watering a virtual tree
- Donation to a charity, such as the Cancer Council of Australia or a charity associated with the cause of death of the deceased
- Online communities, such as the Australian Defence Force, that honour the memory of individuals who died in conflicts. These communities may be moderated by a representative from this community
- Promotion of the memorial profile through such features as share-buttons for Facebook, Twitter, or other social software sites
- Hosting of the memorial site in perpetuity for a once-off initial fee
There are, of course, a number of considerations when deciding upon an online memorial. One of the most important considerations is the longevity of the memorial profile. Although many services claim that they will host the memorial page forever, this may be more of a well-meaning aspiration than a reality. Companies come and go and it is important to consider the health of the company when deciding upon an online memorial. This can be done through assessing how many people are actually using the service; where the service is located, and evaluating how presentable the memorial site is through the application of the latest technology.
Also, sensitive moderation of the comments and contributions made to the memorial profile is very important. The memorial is usually open to the public, or in some cases, restricted to confirmed friends and relatives. Moderation may be done by a family member or friend who set up the account, or more likely, the moderation is done in-house by the service-provider. The general public can usually post comments on the memorial profile and occasionally inappropriate messages are posted. So it is important to consider how these messages are moderated and deleted before publication. And, there are the inevitable differences between family members and friends that may play out online. In this case, it is also very important to consider who is moderating the memorial profile.
Services such as Facebook will memorialise a profile page upon the death of an individual if the correct evidence is supplied. Facebook’s policy is described here: https://www.facebook.com/help/150486848354038/. Facebook and other social software services are an increasingly popular way to memorialise the deceased, although there is no guarantee that the memorialised profile will be available into the future. This is why it is important to have local copies of photos, videos or other data stored safely on a removable disc (or a trusted location) as the Internet is dynamic and circumstances change.