Social Media and Literary Legacies

Writers are constantly urged to set up a social media platform, create an online presence and help publishers’ promotions. But what happens to these when a writer passes on?

People, including readers, are increasingly turning to social media to not only voice condolences but to re-read status updates and look again at photos left on social networking sites as part of the mourning process. I’ve written about why writers need to make a Will before. It’s important to protect your literary legacy and ensure that copyright is passed to someone who will carry out your wishes with regard to granting permission for use of your work, withholding permission where appropriate, organising posthumous publication(s) and caretaking.

I’m not suggesting writers need to treat every photo upload or tweet as if it might be their last, but have you given any thought as to whether a literary executor should also have access to your social media accounts? Should they be able to manage your online reputation as well as your copyrighted works?

There are apps available that can analyse the vocabulary and syntax from a writer’s existing tweets and construct sound-a-like new tweets so a writer can appear to be continuing to post. Memorial sites are available which will collect and store digital data in the hope that future intelligent software will be able to analyse the store and re-create the user’s online presence – a virtual cryogenic freezing. Whether this appeals or not, does your literary executor know how you feel about them and what your wishes would be?

How can a Writer protect their Social Media Platform?

  • Whether you want someone simply to check your accounts haven’t been hacked and/or that spam has found its way into your comments sector, or whether you want someone to keep your profiles or blog ‘live’ by adding updates or posting guest articles, choose someone who understands your aims.
  • You needn’t make a formal arrangement or just appoint one person.
  • List your accounts and passwords somewhere safe but accessible, eg with your will or with other important documents
  • Consider if you’d like a final message to appear on your profiles and, if so, keep a draft with your passwords
  • Take care not to leave a restrictive or rigid set of instructions behind. Current social media sites evolve and new sites are always being developed. If you would like your social media presence to continue in some form and draw up a list of restrictions, you may prevent your social media executor taking advantage of a brilliant new site that hasn’t been created yet.

In the meantime, continue to develop a social media platform worthy of being archived.

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2 Responses to “Social Media and Literary Legacies”

  1. Sam Says:

    Sound advice, Emma. I’m forwarding this blog to my literary executor. Thanks.

  2. thinking of the days Says:

    Emma, this is really interesting stuff that I’d not even thought about…


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