What Happens To Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?
What Happens To Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?
What Happens To Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?
by

Ah, a new year, a new opportunity to think about your inevitable demise. Or is that just me? At some point, most of us have thought about what will happen to us after we die. However, something we may not have considered is what happens to our digital selves after we die.

In this day and age, we all leave some sort of legacy on the Internet. From social media profiles to blog posts, a biography of our lives is ingrained on the Internet. Does that presence ever go away?

In terms of your social media accounts, the answer depends on the platform. While some social networking sites have integrated ways of handling accounts of the deceased, others haven’t addressed the issue at all. These discrepancies are pretty concerning, especially if your social accounts are linked with your financial accounts or other personal information.

Many suggest making a digital estate plan, which is essentially a will for your online presence. However, you can take steps to protect your social accounts right this second. Here’s how you can do so on each of the major social networking platforms:

Facebook

Facebook is the most advanced of its peers when it comes to handling profiles of the deceased. The platform offers users the option to elect whether they’d like their account to be memorialized or permanently deleted from Facebook when they die. Memorialized accounts are essentially digital shrines, a place for your Facebook friends to gather and share memories after you have passed. The word “Remembering” is shown next to your name on the profile. All your content stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience you originally shared it with.

You can also set a legacy contact, i.e. someone that can manage your account after you pass away. They’ll have the ability pin a post on your Timeline, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture. They won’t be able to post as you or see your messages, so your secrets won’t be exposed.

Instagram

Instagram’s privacy policy on accounts of the deceased is similar to that of its parent company, Facebook. Accounts can be memorialized or removed, but there’s no way for you to choose one of these options before you die. That decision is up to the person who reports your death to Instagram.

Twitter

Twitter doesn’t have any built-in way of addressing the death of a user, but its policy does allow verified family member and estate executors to work with Twitter to deactivate the account in question. Twitter will also remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances upon the request of authorized individuals.

YouTube

YouTube offers a way for users to decide the future of their accounts before they die through its parent company, Google. The Inactive Account Manager lets you choose a trusted contact who will be given access to your data when your account has been inactive for a certain period of time.

If you don’t have this feature in place, authorized individuals can request information from your account or permanently close it.

Regardless of which platform you’re on or which option you choose, they all rely on someone notifying the social platform that you have passed away. So it’s a smart idea to designate that responsibility to someone close to you, before it’s actually needed.

About the Author

Maha Chaudhry
Maha Chaudhry works at Renegade LLC, a social-inspired marketing agency. She recently graduated from Princeton University, where she studied psychology and health policy. Her interests include fashion and beauty in digital media.
  • Caroline Stroud

    While these social media platforms have indeed created a short term solution to users’ death, I do believe that there is a much bigger problem in the future with so many unused/enshrined accounts. It is a very interesting and touchy topic and I am interested to see how these platforms- especially Facebook- will decided to handle this problem in the future.

  • Death scares all but what scares more is what will happen to our social media accounts when we die. Will Facebook account will have millions of dead people’s account decades from now? Good thing these platforms account can be taken care of when the unfortunate fate happens.

  • Ali Anjum

    An interesting thing to consider with all things in this life. When will we die? In this time and age with technology reaching newer heights how we “die” digitally is also an interesting thing to consider. Maybe, the next step forward is how we can also continue online even though we are no longer here. How this all ties back to social media marketing is another thing to consider when dealing with digital death, but also continue in the future as online immortals even if we are actually no longer present. Can we live on as online incarnations of ourselves during this technological age?

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