Plan your social media afterlife with Google’s creepy new feature

willGoogle does creepy stuff sometimes. Like maybe work with the FBI so they can look at all your stuff. Or making Google Glass, which raises serious privacy concerns. But one of Google’s newest features is less creepy in a we-know-everything way and more creepy in a we-are-seriously-considering-your-inevitable-death kind of way.

Google announced a new plan for what happens to your data after you die on its Google Public Policy Blog today, and it’s really not very comforting. Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 3.18.53 PMProject manager Andreas Tuerk described the new feature, which is called the “Inactive Account Manager,” focusing on how Google lets you make a plan for who gets access to your accounts when you go to that big data center in the sky. Tuerk tempered the awkward announcement with some levity, poking fun at the title – “not a great name, we know” – but even though it’s morbid, the feature actually sounds pretty practical. Just call it Google for Dead People.

You can decide to have your data deleted at an arranged interval, or you can forward information from places like Google+, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, and Gmail to a loved one. You can’t control all of your Google Apps though, so if there’s something you want to share in perpetuity, make sure it’s available on one of services mentioned on the blog.

This feature will work even if you’re not dead – even three months of inactivity can set it off, so if you decide to go off the grid, you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing your stuff if you set it to auto-delete.

 Google’s obsession with everyone’s eventual mortality has its perks: If you work for the company, they have a generous payment plan for the spouses of the deceased.

But wait – what if Dead You also wants to tweet to people? Or post to Tumblr? Other services are all over that. At SXSW, we introduced you to DeadSocial, which lets you give up to six people control of your social media accounts after you die. This means you can leave a list of tweets perfect for posthumous release with your friend and have them sent out weeks, months, years after you die, or give someone an awesome Facebook cover photo only to be used in the event of your horrific end. And while Google focuses on wrapping up your time with their services, DeadSocial gives you a way to keep your tweets and blog posts online for hundreds of years.

Now, if someone you know (or simply know about) dies without using a service like DeadSocial, don’t worry, you can still gawk at their final tweets thanks to The Tweet Thereafter, which takes the vague macabre mood of Inactive Account Manager and DeadSocial and multiplies it by two thousand. The Tweet Thereafter basically collects the tweets of dead people so you can look at a sort of digital Twitter-based memorial. It even includes the cause and date of death if they’re public on the Internet. Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 3.52.05 PM

Observe legendary critic Roger Ebert reduced to a weird Tweet Thereafter memorial.

Google introduced its Inactive Account Manager for the same reason DeadSocial and The Tweet Thereafter exist: We are now a culture that leaves massive digital footprints, and tending to our online ephemera is as important to preserving someone’s legacy as clipping an obituary or placing flowers on a grave. Death is messy, horrible and confusing, but these services attempt to make it just a little bit neater (or, at least, that’s what DeadSocial and Google are doing – The Tweet Thereafter sort of just reveling in it).

Social Media

Instagram ditches plans for stand-alone Direct messaging app

Instagram is shuttering it's stand-alone messaging app, Direct, after testing it since 2017. While the messaging features remain intact inside Instagram, the separate app will be discontinued in the next few weeks.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Social Media

Instagram’s new Explore grid tempts you to open your wallet

Instagram has made some changes to its Explore tab that might tempt you into the occasional shopping spree. It's also planning to add Stories to the grid, mixing them up with the existing photos and videos.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

We say farewell and fondly remember Grumpy Cat, the internet's most famous frowning feline meme and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat was in real life nearly the opposite of her…
Mobile

Treat your selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.
Web

Creators of WhatsApp attack software face lawsuit from Amnesty International

This week a spyware attack was launched on WhatsApp. Now the Israeli firm linked to that attack is facing a lawsuit from human rights NGO Amnesty International, alleging their software has been used to surveil human rights defenders.
Mobile

New York could dish out fines for texting while crossing the street

Do you text on your phone while crossing the street? The dangers of stepping out in front of a car or bus are obvious, but in New York, offenders could soon face a fine of as much as $250, too.
Social Media

Help wanted: British royal family seeks social media wiz to run its accounts

The British royal family is looking for a social media expert to help it communicate its role and activities to the masses. So if you like the idea of having the Queen as your boss, why not throw your hat in the ring?
Social Media

Millions of Instagram influencers reportedly had private data exposed online

As many as 49 million Instagram influencers have reportedly had their private data exposed in an online database that had no password protection. The database was apparently created by a marketing firm and has been taken offline.
Social Media

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams still wants to save the world

Social media is evil, leading to a mental health crisis in Gen Z and a rise in hate speech. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, says Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter. But weaning ourselves off today's social media won't be…
Social Media

Facebook gets a bad rap, former exec says, but we should break it up anyway

The rise of hate speech, the trolling, the comment on Facebook? Not Facebook's fault, says Alex Stamos, the social network's former chief security officer. But the site should still be broken up, he says.
Web

What is Reddit? A beginner’s guide to the front page of the internet

If you spend much time online, you've probably heard of Reddit. Here, we break down the terminology, perks, and inner workings of everyone's favorite social platform. Understanding the "front page of the internet" has never been so easy.
Mobile

Looking for love or just some fun? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.