Have you ever wondered what happens to your social media accounts when you die? The FOX 12 Investigators looked into what happens to your digital estate.
In Oregon, there are no laws on the books to take care of your virtual assets once you die.
Karen Williams, whose son Loren was 22 years old when he died in a motorcycle crash in Arizona, tried to access her son's Facebook page after his death. Facebook, however, wouldn't let her.
Eventually, one of her son's friends found his Facebook password, and Williams was able to log on.
"It was so comforting to read that other people appreciated him and missed him," she said. "This was an aspect of his life that we didn't know a whole lot about because we raised our son, and we let him go."
Williams wanted Facebook to keep the page up for a year.
"I had the password now, so I called Facebook and said everything's OK. I can oversee the website. I've got the password. And within two hours, they shut it down," she said.
Williams said she was told to get a court order to get back into her son's Facebook account.
Facebook wouldn't comment about particulars, but told FOX 12: "For privacy reasons, we do not allow others to access a deceased user's account."
It took Williams nine months to get her court order.
Facebook and other social media sites are just abiding by federal electronics privacy laws that date back a quarter century, but many believe technology has outpaced the law.
Next year, the Oregon Legislature will likely take up the question of digital and virtual assets. Portland attorney Victoria Blachly is drafting the proposal so other Oregonians don't have to go through what Williams had to.
"It's very disconcerting that online providers have all of this information, and they mine it and market it and make millions and millions and billions of dollars on it," she said. "But then if the loved ones want to have access, they hold up their hands and scream privacy is an issue."
Because you can't simply rifle through an electronic shoe box, Blachly said Oregon law needs to clearly state how loved ones or trusted friends can get access, or not, to various online accounts, including financial information.
Though Oregon doesn't have a law concerning virtual assets, there are things you can do now to make sure this part of your estate is handled the way you want.
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