Google 'Inactive Account Manager' Lets Users Plan For Their 'Digital Afterlife'

What happens to your online data after you die?

It sounds morbid, but as more of our lives moves online it's becoming increasingly important to consider.

Now Google has become the first major internet company to offer users an easy way to decide how their email, social networking and online photos are dealt with when they become - in the parlance of the net - 'inactive'.

The new feature allows users to choose to delete their data after a certain period of inactivity, or send details of how to access it to specific people.

In a blog post the search giant admitted the Inactive Account Manager was "not a great name" but that it would "make life easier for your loved ones after you're gone".

"Not many of us like thinking about death -- especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you're gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we're launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account."

"For example, you can choose to have your data deleted -- after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we'll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you've provided."

Now users of Facebook, Twitter and other big social networking sites are calling for similar options so they can decide what happens to their online self after the inevitable occurs.