Jo Cox widower among bereaved who fear losing digital legacy

News, Twitter

Jo Cox’s widower and a Manchester terror attack victim’s family fear losing the “digital legacy” of loved ones amid Twitter’s plans to delete inactive accounts.

The social network is to start a “clean up” of dormant profiles on its platform, warning affected users who have not accessed the service for more than six months that their account could be removed.

Brendan Cox said he is worried his late wife’s account could be deleted, having been unused since June 15, 2016, the day before she was murdered by neo-Nazi terrorist Thomas Mair.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Cox said it would be a “real shame” for families to lose precious memories preserved on the platform.

“For those whom Twitter is one of the ways, the communication vehicles that they use a lot, I think it is a very modern equivalent of keeping someone’s diary or letters,” he explained.

“From my point of view, there’s lots of things on there where she talks about the work that she’s doing, she posted a few bits on there in terms of the family, and it’s something that I want the kids to scroll through when they’re older.

“It gives you an insight into the day to day stuff that their mum was concentrating on and I don’t want to be in a situation where they lose that.”

Twitter has said people are not required to tweet from their account to keep it active, they just need to sign in and follow on-screen prompts – though for families without their loved one’s password this is not an option.

The social network is thinking about ways it could memorialise these accounts – similar to the way Facebook does, allowing others to continue viewing the profile and post messages.

Dan Hett’s brother Martyn Hett was killed at the Manchester Arena terror attack in May 2017, attending an Ariana Grande concert.

He took to Twitter sharing his concern, saying social media becomes “vital” to preserving memories of those who have died.

“Twitter and social accounts can and do become vital when someone checks out, especially when it’s unexpected like in the case of @martynhett,” he tweeted.

“He didn’t know he was writing an important digital legacy in his throwaway tweets, but now we have it we mustn’t lose it.”

He added: “There are archival services that will scrape all the content, but this isn’t enough.

“The idea that one day you could tag @martynhett and have nothing appear, or worse someone else who’s taken the handle, is not the one.”

Chris Price
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