Perhaps you saw this in the news recently (July 2018), but I thought it would be worthwhile updating the Digital Legacy section of this blog as it is quite a landmark ruling.
Facebook must grant a grieving mother access to her late daughter’s profile and private messages, Germany’s highest court for civil and criminal law has ruled.
In a landmark judgment for the treatment of social media data after the owner’s death, the federal court of justice ruled on Thursday that parents can inherit the contract between their child and a social media platform in the same way they would be able to inherit physical documents such as diaries and private letters.
“From an inheritance law view, there is no reason to treat digital content differently,” the court said.
Whatever the legal position, it is wise to take a step back and think hard before delving into the social media interactions of our deceased loved one. It is interesting that social media posts have been compared to a diary. Should we – have we – do we read our loved one’s diaries when they are living? Should we – have we – do we read them when they are passed? There seems to be a tug at the heartstrings here – balancing our need for more information about our loved one, especially if theirs was a sudden, unexpected death. On the other hand, there are concerns about respecting their personal autonomy. If this is something you have been thinking about, you might want to read more here