This Is What Happens When The President Plans His Digital legacy

By Peter Billingham - Digital Death Advisor

A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.
— ― Barack Obama

What Do You And President Obama Have In Common? 

US President Barack Obama was the first President to send a tweet. He was the first to live stream from the Oval office. Obama was first to use Youtube to answer questions about policy online. He was the first President to use Snapchat. He was the first President to communicate online with the people of America and around the world on digital channels. He connected with people on platforms where they already spend their time. What do you do with that legacy?

If you have any online presence then you face the same question. What do you do with your digital legacy?

Obama's first tweet reflected something of the personality he had with humour and insight. 

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In the 1000's of posts, pictures and hours of video uploaded that would follow, we got to know his thoughts. We could learn his music choices, passion for sports, and love of his family. We got to know the humanity of the President. We got to know something of the man. Our digital presence does that. We leave something of ourselves online with every upload of a picture, video, or comment.

What Is Your Digital Legacy Going To Say About You?

We build our life legacy similarly by the way we live each day. Every conversation we have, every moment we create, good, bad, fun or sad, we are constructing the memories we will leave behind. It is my privilege weekly as a speechwriter and celebrant to build these memories into a eulogy. Sometimes that can be a challenge. 

There can be a difference between the real and the spoken. There is often a dissonance between the real and the digital too. We also know that for many their Facebook world is not their real world. (I am sure that a team was checking the content for Obama before he hit the post button.) However, even in these edited forms of our lives, it does reveal essential aspects of our personalities. Maybe for the incoming President, it is not that edited! Either way, when you leave from the Oval office or this life, what stays online after our parting needs careful planning and thought. That is what is now happening at The White House.

The digital legacy that President Obama leaves behind is enough that the White House published a digital legacy plan how the social media transition in January will take place. For example, the @POTUS handle with more than 11 million followers will be available to the 45th president. They will archive all the previous tweets to accessible at a new handle, @POTUS44. The photos released on WhiteHouse.gov, Flickr, Instagram and the video content on YouTube, Vimeo, and will be available on these platforms with updated usernames.

So What Have You Done About Your Digital Legacy planning?

While you may not have the volume, scope or team of staff to help you, you still need to carefully consider your digital legacy plan. One day, you will depart this presidential position we all have of being alive. 

In this post - This Is Step One To Protect Your Digital Legacy After Death - you can find a free template to download what your preferences are for your digital legacy. Do you want your online presence to be archived and accessible or deleted? If you do not act now, then those critical choices may not be able to be actioned by others should you die. 

Digital technology has provided everyone from the President of the United States of America to you and me influential, innovative and inspiring ways to communicate online. It has given ways that our future descendants can know something of who we were, albeit edited and selective. Taking careful steps to plan that legacy is just as wise for us as it is for the President.

So what's your plan?