Dealing with social media accounts after death
When a loved one passes away, dealing with their social media accounts will unlikely be at the top of your priority list. However, over time you will probably want to make a decision on what to do with your loved one’s social media accounts.
It is not always the case that the account will be automatically closed after a period of inactivity. For example, Facebook will keep an account active until they are notified otherwise, whereas Twitter will close an account after six months of inactivity. Unfortunately, leaving an account active can sometimes be upsetting for friends and family because of automated features – such as a birthday reminders still appearing for users who have recently passed away.
If you are dealing with your loved one’s social media accounts, it’s important to understand the procedures and requirements for each social media site, as its slightly different from one site to another. Most sites will require proof of your loved one’s death, in the form of a death certificate or obituary.
How to manage a Facebook account after death
When a loved one dies, you can memorialise or delete their Facebook profile. The user may have already made this decision for you, for example, they may have assigned a legacy contact, which would suggest they would like their account to be memorialised.
Memorialising the account:
If Facebook is made aware that a person has died, it is their policy to memorialise the account. Memorialised accounts are a place for friends and family to share memories. A memorialised account has the following features:
- The word ‘remembering’ is shown next to the person’s name on their profile
- Content the person shared (photos, posts) will remain on their profile
- The profile will not appear in ‘People You May Know’ or birthday reminders
- No one can log into a memorialised account
Your loved one may have appointed a ‘legacy contact’ before they died. A legacy contact is someone appointed to look after the account, if it is memorialised.
A legacy contact can:
- Accept friend requests on behalf of a memorialised account
- Pin a tribute post to their loved one’s profile
- Change the profile picture and cover photo
To protect the privacy of the person who has died, legacy contacts cannot remove or alter any posts, read private messages or remove or add friends.
It is not possible to add a legacy contact to an account after someone has passed away, as the legacy contact can only be chosen by the account holder. Memorial accounts that don’t have a legacy account can’t be changed. If your loved one did not assign a legacy account, you can request memorialisation for a profile by completing the memorialisation request form.
Removing the account:
Immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account. Facebook will request you provide information to confirm you’re an immediate family member of the account holder or executor of their will. The easiest way to do this is to provide a scan or photo of your loved one’s death certificate. To remove a Facebook account, send Facebook a request.
How to manage a Twitter account after death
Twitter does not allow accounts to be memorialised. Twitter will remove the account of someone who has died if contacted by an immediate family member or executor of the estate.
You can request the removal of a deceased’s user account on their website. After you have submitted a request, Twitter will email you with further instructions and will request:
- Information about the deceased
- A copy of your ID
- A copy of the deceased’s death certificate
For security reasons, Twitter are unable to provide a family member or friend access to the deceased’s account.
How to manage an Instagram account after death
Like Facebook, Instagram gives you two options; you can memorialise or delete their account. Instagram does not have a legacy contact option, but you can make their profile into a memorial page.
Memorialising the account:
Key features of a memorialised Instagram account:
- Instagram does not allow anyone to log into a memorialised account
- Photos and videos the deceased shared stay on Instagram and are visible to the audience they were shared with
- No one will be able to make changes to any of the accounts existing posts, comments on other peoples posts, privacy settings on the profile, current profile photo, followers or people the person follows
- Memorialised accounts don’t appear in public spaces, like the ‘Explore’ section
Contact Instagram to report the account for memorialisation. They will require proof of death to memorialise the account, such as an obituary.
Removing the account:
Verified immediate family members can request the removal of a loved one’s account from Instagram.
To request your loved one’s account is removed, you can fill out this request form. When you submit a request for the removal of an account, Instagram will require proof that you are an immediate family member of the deceased person, such as your loved one’s birth certificate or death certificate, or proof of authority that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person (or their estate).
How to manage a LinkedIn account after death
When a loved one passes away, you can either leave their LinkedIn account open or close it.
LinkedIn allows you to close the account of a loved one who has died using an online form. LinkedIn asks you for the following information:
- The member’s name
- The URL to their LinkedIn profile
- Your relationship to them
- Member’s email address
- The date the member passed away
- Link to an obituary
Once LinkedIn has reviewed your submitted form, they will contact you to confirm their actions.
How to manage a Pinterest account after death
Similar to Twitter and LinkedIn, Pinterest does not offer memorial pages.
To deactivate a loved one’s account, Pinterest advice you complete their online contact form. They will also ask you to provide proof of death and proof of your relationship with the deceased. When you deactivate an account, the person’s profile and boards won’t be visible on Pinterest anymore.
Pinterest does not delete inactive accounts after a period of time, so if you choose to leave it open, your loved one’s account will remain as it is.
How to manage a Google account after death
Googles ‘Inactive Account Manager’ service allows a user to decide what happens to their account when they die. This service includes Gmail, YouTube and Google+ accounts.
Inactive Account Manager allows a user to:
- Decide when Google should consider the account inactive
- Choose to share data with a nominated contact after a certain period (photos, emails etc)
- Decide if their inactive Google Account should be deleted
Google will request a phone number from the deceased. They will contact this phone number multiple times before they take any action to deactivate or delete an account. The nominated contact will receive notification that your account has been inactive, when the for the duration of time the user had set has passed.
Many people pass away without leaving clear instructions for how to manage their online accounts, and will not have set up Inactive Account Manager. In which case, Google will work with immediate family members of the deceased to close the Google account, where appropriate. In some cases, Google may also provide content from a deceased’s user account.
To close the account of a deceased user, complete this online form. The form will require you to provide the following information:
- Full name of the deceased person
- Email address of the deceased person
- Your full name (as a relative or legal representative)
- Your email address
- Your relationship to the deceased person
- Your postcode and country
- The date of the deceased’s death
You will be also asked to upload a scanned copy of your ID or driver’s license and your loved one’s death certificate.
Google says that will satisfy a request about a deceased user, after a careful review.
How to manage a Snapchat account after death
Snapchat will delete your loved one’s account if you provide them with a copy of their death certificate. To submit a request for an account to be deleted, complete this contact us form.
Remember, you don't have to do anything
You don’t have to remove or memorialise social media accounts if you don’t want to. Some people are more comfortable leaving them as they are, whilst other people feel closure from removing or memorializing their loved one’s accounts. If you do decide to leave the account as it is, you should download any photos or messages you would like to keep, as some platforms do have rules for on how long an account can remain inactive before it is deleted.
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