5 min read
What happens to your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts when death closes the book of life?
Our social media accounts collect what used to go in diaries, photo albums, and home videos. Now, our memories and running commentary live online. Which leads to this question: what happens to your social media after death?
Your Digital Afterlife
Maybe you’ve heard these social media ghost stories:
- A widow gets an Instagram message from her husband three months after his death.
- A girl sends Facebook friend requests a week after a fatal car accident.
- A young man passes away then likes a series of Tweets a year later.
These events defy logic until you start thinking about hackers.
You’ll probably spot their posts or messages right after your account gets hijacked. Or, your friends will notice the “odd behavior” and reach out to you.
It could take a lot longer to detect hackers’ actions when they use accounts of deceased people. Think about this as you determine whether to keep your social media profiles up after death.
Leave Directions in Your Will
You create a will to document things like:
- The beneficiaries of your life insurance policy
- Who takes control of your bank accounts
- Who inherits the car
- Where your pets go
- Arrangements for burial, cremation, and other final expenses
Should your will include instructions for handling your Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and other social media accounts? Yes!
Before you make any decisions, it’ll help to know how each social network deals with deceased users’ accounts.
What to Do With Social Media Accounts After Death
Facebook gives you two main post-death options for your profile:
- Memorialize it
- Delete it
Your privacy settings stay the same with a memorialized account. The word “Remembering” will appear next to your name. Your Facebook friends will be able to post on your timeline depending on your privacy settings.
You'll need to add a legacy contact to memorialize your account. A legacy contact can't log into your account, but they can manage your memorialized page on your behalf. They can't see your messages or create posts with your profile.
They can write a pinned post to share a final message or memorial information, update your profile picture and cover photo, and request the deletion of your account.
Follow these steps to set your legacy contact:
- Navigate to “Settings”
- Click “Edit” to the right of “Memorialization Settings”
- Choose a Facebook friend as your legacy contact
What if you don’t want to leave your Facebook account open after you pass away? Follow the first two steps from above, but instead of naming a legacy contact, choose this option:
- “Request that your account be deleted after you pass away”
- Visit the Facebook Help Center for more details
Google owns YouTube.
This means you’ll need to have someone go through Google to handle your YouTube account after you pass away.
Google recommends you set up an Inactive Account Manager.
When you name an Inactive Account Manager, you also decide on:
- When Google should consider your account inactive.
- Who to notify when the account becomes inactive. You can choose up to 10 contacts and what Google data to share with them, and this includes YouTube data.
- Whether your Google Account will be deleted. Before the account gets deleted, your Inactive Account Manager will have three months to download the content you share with them.
You can have your Instagram profile memorialized or deleted. In both cases, an immediate family member needs to contact Instagram and arrange the change.
Instagram requires “proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article, to memorialize the account.”
To remove the account, Instagram will need your birth certificate, death certificate, and lawful proof that your family member represents you.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not currently offer the option of a legacy contact to manage your account.
Get more details at the Instagram Help Center.
According to the Twitter Help Center, "in the event of the death of a Twitter user, we can work with a person authorized to act on behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated."
This means the authorized person will need to provide:
- A copy of their ID
- A copy of your death certificate
How does a Pinterest account closure work after you’ve passed away? It's almost exactly like Twitter.
You’ll need a family member to contact Pinterest to have the account removed.
A coworker, classmate, or family member could request to have your LinkedIn profile removed.
LinkedIn says this person will need to send the following:
- Your name
- The URL of your LinkedIn profile
- How they know you
- Your email address
- The date you died
- A link to your obituary
- The most recent company you worked for
SnapChat offers very simple instructions for deleting a deceased person’s account:
“We can delete the account for you if you provide us with a copy of the death certificate.”
Another Option: Let Companies Keep Your Accounts Active
What if you want to maintain a more active social media presence after your death? You’ll set up services with companies like MyWishes and Gone Not Gone.
MyWishes allows you to create videos and messages that get delivered after your death. A "social media executor" activates the scheduled messages for your social media pages.
Gone Not Gone is a paid service. With it, you schedule messages for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. Message options include text, photos, audio recordings, and videos.
Looking for more ways to extend your legacy? Life insurance could help you leave money for loved ones, donate to charities, or fund a trust.
As a major plus, all policies from Pekin Life Insurance company come with complimentary identity fraud coverage.