Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Mar 19, 2012 11:00 am CDT
A bill pending in Nebraska would make the state the second to give estate representatives the power to handle social media accounts after the death of state residents.
The bill would treat Facebook, Twitter and email accounts as digital assets that would be managed by appointed representatives, according to the Associated Press and the Omaha World-Herald. The representative could access or close the account, or even post messages.
Under current policy, Facebook will remove the page of a deceased account holder if a family member requests it. Otherwise, when Facebook is notified of a death, it puts the account in a “special memorialized state,” removing certain information and ensuring that it no longer shows up in search results or receives friend requests. Friends and relatives can post messages of condolence, but no one gets passwords or log-in information unless it is required by law or decreed in a will.
The Nebraska bill, introduced on behalf of the state bar association, is modeled after an Oklahoma law enacted last year. According to the World-Herald, the bill aims “to clarify the rights of personal representatives in the new digital age, where private information is tucked away in cyberspace instead of a shoebox.”
The World-Herald says at least five other states are considering such laws, while AP lists only one. The Oregon State Bar is studying the issue and may propose legislation next year.