Co-founder Lisa Granberg developed My Webwill as her final thesis project at Beckmans College of Design last year and the service went live in Sweden in May 2009.
My Webwill customers around the world can send a final Tweet or Facebook status update from beyond the grave by registering for the paid service.
The site describes itself as a “secure password manager” and “digital life insurance.” Those who use the service appoint two verifiers who inform the site of a customer’s death and execute the wishes of the customer as to how to manage his or her online accounts.
Customers can send out a final email and shut down their sites, or turn their sites into memorial pages while removing their contact information.
Friends and family members rarely have the information necessary to access social networking accounts belonging to people who have died.
“We live a lot of our life online these days,” Granberg told The Local. “There are lots of cases today where friends and relatives of young people who’ve committed suicide or died in other ways can’t do anything to alter the information found online about whoever died.”
Granberg first became aware of the problems involving digital identities on the Internet after the death of the creator in the fall of 2008. Without the passwords to access the site, relatives could not do anything about the active accounts.
“The service is designed to let the individual decide what will happen with their online profiles after they’re gone,” she said.
While some people may choose to have their Facebook or Flickr accounts shut down completely, others may instead elect to simply update their profile picture or send out a final message.
My Webwill can also allow users to create a final blog post on Blogger, or have their final goodbye email sent to friends from a web-based email service like Gmail or Hotmail.
My Webwill currently charges international customers $9.95 for a one-year premium account for access to the 30 sites it is presently registered with. For Swedish customers, there is a free account option for up to 10 websites, as well as premium and lifetime memberships.
In Sweden and Germany, My Webwill is automatically notified of a deaths by national authorities. In other countries, the verifiers must send in a death certificate for the customer, which is followed up by obituaries or contacting local authorities.
“It’s not so much about death, bur more about being in control of what will remain,” said Granberg. “Users will be able to decide what can still be seen and who can see it.”
A user can even tell My Webwill how to long to wait until executing their instructions. While some terminate their accounts immediately, others can wait up to several weeks before sending out a final message.