Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. We share our lives through them, but what happens to your social media after death closes the book of life?
You've heard the stories: Widow gets Instagram message from her husband three months after his death. Girl tags herself in Facebook photo a year after fatal accident. These and many other ghost stories are modern-day iterations of the old campfire tales, but they allude to a reality: what happens to your social media after death?
In many ways, our social media accounts are some mix of a diary, a photo album, and a memoir. Facebook memories pop up on our timelines regularly. Instagram is our view of the world. Twitter is our running commentary. Pinterest is how we share our hobbies and interests. These are the things that, a decade ago, relatives would find in a box in the attic as they cleaned out our home.
Now, though, we continue to have a mortal presence as we head to the hereafter. And it's worth thinking about what happens with those memories.
Your Digital Afterlife
There are some definite considerations when we write a will. We note essential things like the beneficiaries of our life insurance policy, who gets the heirloom jewelry, where our pets go, and whether we prefer a traditional burial or cremation. All of these are important and practical matters.
What we don't often consider, however, is our online legacy. What happens to that Facebook page? Do our Tweets just live on in perpetuity? As it turns out, this isn't such a cut and dried question. Each social network has its own set of procedures for this eventuality.
According to the Facebook Help Center, you can either have your account permanently deleted or you can request a memorialized account. For a memorialized account, all of your privacy settings remain the same. The only real difference is that the word "Remembering" will appear next to your name.
To make that change, you'll need to add a legacy contact. A legacy contact cannot log into your account, but they can manage your memorialized page on your behalf. They can write a pinned post to share a final message or memorial information, they can update your profile picture and cover photo, and they can request the deletion of your account.
Your options for Twitter are much more limited. 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."
An Instagram profile may be memorialized or deleted. In both cases, however, your assigned family member will need to contact Instagram to arrange the change. Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not currently offer the option of a legacy contact.
Like Twitter, your options for handling your Pinterest account from the great beyond involves asking a family member to contact Pinterest to have the account removed.
LinkedIn is perhaps the most straightforward account to close. They don't appear to require that the removal request come from a family member. They just ask for a link to the obituary as well as some general identifying information.
As a subsidiary of Google, your YouTube account, along with any other Google accounts you have, offers the option of appointing an Inactive Account Manager. This person is notified if your account is inactive for a prescribed amount of time. Google will work with them to close your account while keeping your information "secure, safe, and private."
What Are Your Options?
It's ultimately up to you to decide whether you want your social media accounts deleted or memorialized after you pass away. Interestingly, however, you can retain a social media presence through services such as DeadSocial and Gone Not Gone.
DeadSocial is a free digital legacy service that allows you to create videos and messages that get delivered after your death. A "social media executor" activates your scheduled messages that will then go out on your social media pages.
DeadSocial offers you a way to say goodbye, remind friends to take care of their health, or send any other messages you wish.
Gone Not Gone
Gone Not Gone is a paid service that allows you to schedule messages that you can send to loved ones on anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. Message options include text, photos, audio recordings, and videos. The one-time fee for this service pays for your messages to send for the entire lifetime of the recipient.
One other way to extend your legacy is to make sure you have the life insurance policy you need. The right policy can help your loved ones both financially and emotionally after you are gone. Call your local Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.