What Happens To Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?

Social Media has become an integral part of the modern person’s life. Here are how different platforms deal with death.
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2016-11-28
Social media platforms are a great way to keep up with someone's life. But, what happens to a social media account when that someone is no longer with us? After all, our social media accounts are so integrated into our lives that they have become a sort of digital identity for many of us and are often used by companies and services to verify certain info. Each of the major social media platforms have their own policies for dealing with this unfortunate eventuality:

Facebook

Facebook provides a few different options for the account of a deceased person. The account can either be memorialized or it can be deleted.

A Memorialized Account

Facebook describes memorialized accounts as "a way for people on Facebook to remember and celebrate those who've passed away". Memorializing an account will do things like keep the account secure by preventing anyone from logging into it. The only person who can manage a memorialized account is a legacy contact who must be selected by the account holder. A legacy contact can do the following:
  • Pin a post on the person's profile
  • Respond to new friend requests
  • Update the profile picture and cover photo
You can request for your account to be memorialized after you pass away by completing the form found here. In order to select a legacy contact (the person who will care for your account after you pass away) you need to complete the following steps:
  1. Click  in the top right of Facebook and select Settings
  2. In the left menu, click Security
  3. Click Legacy Contact
  4. Type in a friend's name and click Add
  5. To let your friend know they're now your legacy contact, click Send
To change or remove a legacy contact, follow steps 1–3 above, then click Remove. From there, you can add a new legacy contact if you'd like.

A Deleted Account

Alternatively, you could choose to have your account permanently deleted once you pass away, to do this you'll need to do the following steps:
  1. From the top right of Facebook, click  and select Settings
  2. From the left menu, click Security
  3. Click Legacy Contact
  4. Check the box below Account Deletion and follow the on-screen instructions

Twitter

Twitter does not offer the option of memorialising an account. Instead, they permanently delete your account once they've been notified of your (or the Twitter account holder) passing away. You'll need to complete this form to request the removal of a deceased user's account. After you submit your request, Twitter will then email you with instructions for providing more details. This will include information about the deceased, a copy of your ID, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate. The company says that this is a necessary step to prevent false and/or unauthorised reports.

Instagram

As with Facebook, Instagram offers a memorialization option for the account of the deceased. You'll have to request for the account to be memorialized by using this form. The company will request proof of death (such as a link to an obituary or news article) to memorialize the account. An account can also be deleted by verified family members. When submitting a request for removal, Instagram requires proof that you're an immediate family member of the deceased person, such as:
  • The deceased person's birth certificate
  • The deceased person's death certificate
  • Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate
To request the removal of a deceased's Instagram account, you'll need to complete this form. These are just the practices of the three most well known social media accounts. Services, like Google, have their own procedures and policies for dealing with the account of a deceased person. As social media becomes more and more a part of our daily lives and digital identities, it's important to take some time to decide what happens to your accounts after you pass away.