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ESTATE PLANNING

Social media afterlife: What happens to Facebook after you die?

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  • Mel Buttigieg
  • Writer, Bare
  • August 11, 2020
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Have you ever thought about what happens to Facebook after you die? Facebook and other social media platforms have become an important tool to stay connected in our personal lives and also for business. But what happens to our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts long after we’re gone?

As Facebook and other social media platforms are such a key part of how we stay connected in a modern world, they are also becoming more important to consider during the estate planning process.

Digital legacy policies exist on some platforms to allow social media users to nominate a caretaker who will manage their social media accounts in memoriam.

So, if you’re thinking about making or updating a Will, preplanning a funeral or making other end-of-life plans – or assisting a loved one who is – now’s a good time to think about what will happen to these social media accounts like Facebook after you die. Nominating a Facebook legacy contact is a simple process that can give you peace of mind.

Will your accounts remain open, continuing to represent you and your business or professional profile long after you’ve passed? Or will someone have access to close or moderate them after the death of a loved one?

A Facebook memorial profile can provide comfort to loved ones, allowing them to cherish memories from Facebook after you die.

Each social media platform has a slightly different legacy policy, so we’ve put together this guide to help you understand what happens with online accounts after you die, for most of the biggest social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

This article is broken down into the following sections:

  1. What happens to your Facebook after you die?
  2. How do you nominate a Facebook legacy contact?
  3. How do you memorialise a Facebook profile after a death?
  4. What happens to your Twitter after you die?
  5. What happens to your LinkedIn after you die?
  6. What happens to your Instagram after you die?
  7. Online account password sharing
A Facebook memorial profile turns the page into a digital tribute with the word 'Remembering' before the deceased’s name after they die. Source: Facebook
A Facebook memorial profile turns the page into a digital tribute with the word ‘Remembering’ before the deceased’s name. Source: Facebook

1. What happens to your Facebook after you die?

Facebook memorialised accounts are a way for those close to the deceased to remember and celebrate their life after they die. Privacy settings remain the same and friends can still post on the page and tag the deceased person in photos.

A close relative or friend may be entrusted to care for a loved one’s Facebook account after they die. A Facebook legacy contact can manage and moderate tributes on the memorialised profile.

When a person dies, a close friend or relative can make a request to memorialise your Facebook profile. This will turn the Facebook page into a digital memorial, with the word “Remembering” before the deceased’s name. Any photos and posts the person shared in the past will remain visible on their memorial account.

You can decide what happens to your Facebook account after you pass away. You may either nominate a legacy contact to manage your memorialised account, or request to have your profile permanently deleted from Facebook after you die. If you don’t choose to have your account permanently deleted, it will become memorialised if Facebook becomes aware of your passing.

If you’re someone who is wanting to delete the social media account of a loved one who’s recently died, take a moment to first look through the posts and save any photos you want to keep. Deleting a social media account is very final, so err on the side of caution.

2. How do you nominate a Facebook legacy contact?

You can nominate a Facebook legacy contact in Facebook’s General Account Settings, in the section called Memorialization Settings.

To nominate your Facebook legacy contact, all you need to do is select the person you want to look after your memorial account. After your passing, your Facebook legacy contact will be required to submit a digital copy of your death certificate before the page becomes a memorial page. Once approved, your Facebook legacy contact can approve friend requests and moderate the posts shared to the Tributes section.

Or, if you prefer not to have a memorial account, you can instead request that your Facebook profile is permanently deleted after your death. You can also do this in the General Account Settings.

Social media accounts Facebook and Instagram can be memorialised when someone dies. LinkedIn and Twitter can be deactivated.
Social media accounts Facebook and Instagram can be memorialised when someone dies. LinkedIn and Twitter can be deactivated.

3. How do you memorialise or delete a Facebook profile after a death?

To request to delete or memorialise a loved one’s Facebook profile after a death, you’ll need to contact Facebook and provide some details. You will be also required to supply a copy of the death certificate.

You can send a request for Facebook to memorialise or delete a loved one’s profile here.

4. What happens to your Twitter after you die?

There is currently no option to memorialise a person’s Twitter account or to provide access to a third party after someone dies. When someone dies, the only option is to have their Twitter account deleted.

Twitter’s inactive account policy means the platform will automatically remove accounts due to prolonged inactivity, after about six months. So, if Twitter has noticed no activity on a deceased person’s account after a while, the account will be deactivated without anyone needing to do anything.

However, to request immediate deactivation of a Twitter account after a death, an immediate family or the executor of the estate can also make a request by contacting Twitter. They’ll need to provide their own ID (such as a drivers licence) as well as a copy of the death certificate.

You can begin the process of removing a Twitter accounthere.

5. What happens to your LinkedIn after you die?

LinkedIn does not have any kind of a memorial profile after someone dies, but allows a trusted contact to make a request to delete a deceased user’s profile entirely.

To make a request to remove a deceased person’s LinkedIn account, you’ll need to fill out a LinkedIn profile removal request form online here with the following details:

  1. The LinkedIn member’s name
  2. The URL to their LinkedIn profile
  3. Your relationship to them
  4. Member’s email address
  5. Date of their passing
  6. Link to obituary

6. What happens to your Instagram after you die?

Similar to Facebook, there’s two options for what happens to your Instagram after you die. After someone has passed away, Instagram can either memorialise, or delete the account if a family member or friend submits a request.

A memorial account on Instagram resembles an account of a living user. However, once an Instagram has been memorialised, all comments and photos remain frozen in time. No new content can be added to an Instagram memorial account. Unlike a Facebook memorial account, nobody can log into the deceased person’s Instagram account and no further likes tags or comments can be made.

Memorialised accounts are hidden from Instagram’s explore sections and the platform’s other public spaces.

To make a request to memorialise an Instagram account, you’ll just need to provide proof of the death and of your relationship with the person who has died. Instagram suggests a birth certificate, the death certificate, and/or a copy of the will naming you the executor.

You can submit a request to memorialise or delete a deceased person’s Instagram account here.

All comments and photos remain frozen in time on a person's Instagram memorial account after they die.
All comments and photos remain frozen in time on a person’s Instagram memorial account after they die.

7. Online account password sharing

It’s important to understand the cyber security implications of password sharing. The official advice from government organisations and social media giants is simply don’t give your passwords out to anyone else. However, if you wanted to share login details with someone you trust in the event of your death, there’s nothing stopping you.

Setting up a single login to a central database might be a good solution to store all your information in one place, with one access point. We’ve heard of people who have set up password-protected online data files where their pertinent login information is stored, along with scanned digital versions of important documents. They then give the login information to a trusted contact to access the file when they die, so everything is stored in one place.

The same can technically be done with logging your passwords through a password manager account like LastPass or Password Boss and providing the login to someone you trust.

If you’ve wondered what to do with social media accounts after someone dies, we hope this guide to online and social media legacy profiles has given you a better understanding of what’s involved.

More tips on estate planning can be found on the Bare Cremation website, including 21 common mistakes to avoid when making a Will and What is a living will and how to make one?: A guide to advance care directives.

Want to see what our direct cremation service will cost in your area?To get a free quote for a cremation visit the Bare Cremation website, or call 1800 319 568.

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Mel-Buttigieg-bio.jpg
  • Mel Buttigieg
  • Writer, Bare
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