x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

One step beyond

At a time of omnipresent and always-updated social media, is it enough to have a simple, static presence in death? Apparently not.

We all want to be remembered after we're dead: which is why there are funeral orations, obituaries, cemetery headstones and other reminders that our forebears once walked this Earth. But, at a time of omnipresent and always-updated social media, is it enough to have a simple, static presence in death?

Apparently not. Two new services suggest that many of us are desperate to keep our online personas alive well after we've departed the scene. One of them, Deathswitch, will work out when you are dead - because you have failed to respond to regular notifications to tell them otherwise - and then send out emails you've prepared earlier: a declaration of love, perhaps, or a piece of information that you wanted to keep secret.

Upping the ante now is LivesOn, whose slogan is "When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting". The application promises to monitor your social-media behaviour while you are alive, and then send out similar missives after you've shuffled off your mortal coil.

While most people who sign up for these services will no doubt have good intentions, there is also the possibility that they could be used to settle old scores or arguments from beyond the grave. If you can't libel the dead, can the dead libel you?

Thanks to technology, it's now really possible to have the final word.