Preserving your digital legacy: What happens to your MP3s when you die?

To spare the feelings of friends and family, these preserved profiles will not generate birthday reminders or be used to populate Facebook's lists of friend suggestions for users.

They might have hundreds of pounds worth of iTunes stuff, or something of that sort, but I'm not going to pay my lawyer a fortune to deal with...something of hypothetical value.

"[Facebook] will automatically memorialise an account when we know that an account user has passed away," the company said in a statement to IT Pro. "Anyone can request memorialisation, with proof of a user's passing." In some cases, friends and family may want the deceased person's profile deactivated or deleted, a situation Facebook is more than happy to comply with. "Family members/executors may request to have the profile removed entirely, but they do not have the right to actually access the account," a Facebook spokesperson added. "Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one's account from the site, and Facebook will close or completely remove [it]." Microblogging site Twitter offers similar service, whereby a verified family member or the executor of the dead person's estate can ask the site to deactivate their account by supplying copies of the user's death certificate, driver's license and username details. These must be accompanied by a signed statement confirming their relationship to the deceased.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.