If the way people spend their time reflects what they value, it’s clear that social media platforms are an integral part of users’ lives. The New York Times reports that users spend an average of 50 minutes per day on Facebook’s popular platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Messenger). This outranks almost all other leisure activities examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also doesn’t take into account the time people spend on other popular social media platforms.
While investing all of this time in social media, users build a presence that reflects how they want to be perceived by their family members and friends. But what happens to a social media account after a person dies?
Social media platforms offer different policies for how they will handle an account after a user dies. Some only allow family members to delete the account entirely (if they desire), while others also offer the option to turn it into an online memorial. Below are the current options and procedures for some of the most popular social media platforms.
Facebook allows authorized contacts to decide what happens to a Facebook account after a person dies. There are two options: creating a memorialized account or deleting the account.
- Memorialized Accounts: Creating a memorialized account allows friends and family members to continue using a person’s profile to share memories. To learn how to report a Facebook account that needs to be memorialized, click here.
- Removing an Account: Immediate family members can request to have a loved one’s account permanently deleted after he or she dies. To learn more about contacting Facebook with this type of request, click here.
Facebook takes social media memorial options a step further by letting people plan ahead for how they want their accounts to be handled after they die. Each Facebook user can designate a legacy contact who will have certain account rights when he or she dies.
If a Twitter user dies, a person who is authorized to work on behalf of the estate or a verified immediate family member can request to have the account deactivated. People who wish to have an account deactivated will be asked to provide more information to verify that the request is legitimate. To learn more about submitting this type of request to Twitter, click here.
Google (and YouTube)
Google provides an option for immediate family members, legal representatives or executors to close the account of a deceased Google user. The process involves completing a form and submitting supporting documents that verify the validity of the request. Click here to learn more about this process, which also applies to YouTube accounts.
Google also allows users to plan ahead for how they want their accounts to be managed if they are no longer able to use them. The Inactive Account Manager policy provides a way for users to share certain account data with a trusted contact.
LinkedIn allows people to report that a user is deceased and request to have the profile removed. The process is subject to review and requires users to provide information about the user in addition to a link to an obituary. To learn more about LinkedIn’s procedures for removing an account after a user dies, click here.
Like Facebook (which acquired Instagram in 2012), the image-based social media platform offers options to either delete or memorialize a person’s account after he or she dies. Memorialized accounts prevent people from logging in, but the content is still visible to the audience it was originally shared with. Click here to learn more about the options and verification process.
Family members can request to have a Pinterest user’s account deactivated. To submit a request, a family member should email the Pinterest user support team and provide details about the person (such as full name and account link), as well as documentation of the person’s death and relationship to the submitter of the request. For complete request requirements and contact details, click here.
Changing or deleting a social media account after a person dies often requires family members to take action. That’s why it’s important to ensure your loved ones are aware of your accounts and know if you would like them to be deleted or (where available) memorialized. Sharing these preferences, in addition to working with a reputable funeral home to create an advance funeral plan, will remove decision-making burdens from your family and help ensure your wishes are met.