The most-liked tweet of all time comes from beyond the grave. “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the post begins, tweeted on August 28, 2020, from the actor’s account. “Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.” That he was even sick was shocking news to most of the world. Anticipating his fans’ bewilderment, it continues, “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and in between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.” The heartbreaking kicker is what’s beside these 135 words, a black and white photograph of Boseman, likely taken sometime between those many surgeries. His head playfully tilted, he flashes his signature smile—as vivacious as most assumed he was until seeing the post—his gleaming, wry gaze fixed somewhere above and beyond.

More than the fact that Boseman was beloved across many demographics, and that he died just as the collective trauma from the pandemic was fully taking hold, the main reason this tweet has garnered more than 7 million likes and 2 million retweets is that it’s a poetic death announcement deftly tailored to social media, crafted by either Boseman himself or his family. The straightforward revelation of his illness, the bioluminescent photo, the elegant reflection on his place in the world—“It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther”—stood out among the torrent of riffraff in everyone’s Twitter feed, and in turn set the terms of Boseman’s legacy. It’s not a stretch to say this tweet is among the main reasons why, earlier this month, Marvel Studios announced it would not recast T’Challa in any Black Panther sequel.

Four months after Boseman’s death, on New Year’s Eve, another beauteous, haunting death announcement appeared, this time from the Instagram account of Daniel Dumile, otherwise known MF DOOM. Beneath a photo of the mysterious, literary rapper in his signature mask while posing with bravado in a New York Knicks jersey was a touching declaration of love and gratitude from his wife. But the only reference to his death, and a cryptic one at that, appeared in the final words: “Transitioned October 31, 2020.” That is, his family revealed his departure exactly two months after he died, in the final moments of a year riddled with mass death and suffering. It was eerie yet perfectly appropriate for the famously reclusive, ambitiously anonymous artist. (His cause of death has never been publicly revealed.)

More than cementing their own legacies, Boseman and Dumile’s death announcements are urgent inspiration to shape our own, by being more imaginative with how we share our deaths online. They are high watermarks of what’s possible if we bring the death with dignity movement to social media. If we have any online presence, knowing how to die online should be as central to our deaths as our wills and burial plans.

In the corporeal world, dying with dignity is the focus of research programs, schools of ethics, and legal frameworks. But our digital afterlives are largely afterthoughts.

Few people “plan for how their own deaths will impact social media,” says Katie Gach, a digital ethnographer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies how people manage, and don’t manage, post-mortem social media data. To some of her subjects, “legacies” are reserved for celebrities, so “regulars” like them need not consider a parting note. If people do think about their social media legacy, she says, “they only know who should be making those decisions after they have died,” like telling their spouse their Facebook password to delete their account. Beyond that, most see social media as the wrong medium for the message, “as a tool for communicating in the moment, not as a meaningful record.”