If I Die: Facebook Has an App for That
Facebook profiles don’t die the same way people do. If I Die is a Facebook app that makes sure, even if you die, your social self can still send out your last wishes and post messages to your friends years after you’re gone.
If I Die lets “you” post a final message to your wall and loved one when you’re dead. After installing the app, you choose three “trustees” (Facebook friends) who are charged with verifying your death. Users can then record videos or craft any number of Facebook posts to be published posthumously. When your trustees confirm your death, your messages can be published all at once to your Facebook wall or released on a designated schedule.
It might be a little morbid to start recording farewell messages, but Wilook, the Israel-based company behind the app, built the app because nobody really knows when death will come: “We all have things to say and don’t necessarily have the audience with the patience to hear us,” says Eran Alfonta, the app’s co-founder and CEO. “Actually we all want to leave something behind, we all want to leave a stamp behind us.”
Alfonta got the idea when two of his married friends traveled to Italy without their children and narrowly escaped a fatal car crash with a truck. “They stopped aside and drank water and relaxed and started speaking between themselves: ‘Oh my god, what would happen to the kids if something happened to me?'” They asked Alfonta to create a website where they could record something secret to their kids that would only be sent if they died.
People have been leaving posthumous messages for a long time. Why should a Facebook app replace pen and paper or a recorded video? Facebook provided a way to verify your death with “trustees” but it also guaranteed a delivery mechanism. Too many times a letter can sit unread in a desk, but If I Die ensures a message reaches its destination.
It also allows messages to come out on a schedule. For example, when one user was diagnosed with cancer, she started recording videos for her daughter to be posted on her birthday every year until she was 18.
In a way, If I Die gives its users a measure of social media immortality. Even when they die, their profiles can live on, posting comments and sending personal messages for as long as they have messages to send.
If I Die currently only publishes to a user’s public profile, but the team is working on features to allow for discrete messages and even messages that can be sent to people not on Facebook. The public postings will be free to use, though the discrete messages will work on an annual subscription model, Alfonta says.
While the team is tight-lipped on how many users it has, Alfonta said they expected to hit 100,000 users within a couple of months. Death is clearly on our social minds and Alfonta is no exception. “Oh my god, yes,” he says, when asked if he’s used If I Die to record his own parting messages. “I have four kids and a lovely wife and I left each one of them a message. I hope to live long and prosper but if something happens to me then I think there will be some excellent surprises for my kids, some touching messages.”
Would you record a message? Do you want your profile posting messages on your behalf — even after you die?