Social media accounts have stepped into their users’ lives in a surprisingly big way. What happens to your social media accounts when you die, though? Do you really want to leave behind a permanent digital legacy forged from raging house party pics or almost-good mirror selfies?
Social media can connect us, educate us, and entertain us. It’s high time we gave some thought to what they’ll do with us when we’re gone.
FACEBOOK AS A SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Facebook has already charted out a few different options for handling deceased users’ accounts. The first is a process that lets friends or relatives convert your account into a managed memorial. Others can also have your Facebook account removed from the site after you pass if that’s their preference.
To convert a Facebook account to a memorialized account: Fill out Facebook’s Memorialization Request form. It can be found here.
To Remove a deceased user’s account from Facebook: Fill out Facebook’s Special Request for Deceased Person’s Account form. It can be found here.
If a friend or family member’s account is deleted and you decide to memorialize them later, the best way to do so is by creating a group for that purpose.
Facebook also now lets you plan out your account’s after-death details in advance. In place of the Memorialization options presented above, you can give your account a Legacy Contact. This is a person authorized to make changes and updates to your page after you’re gone. We all have bits and pieces we’d like to tweak, right? Those changes can be made on your behalf if you make a trusted friend or relative your Legacy Contact.
How To Add A Legacy Contact:
1) Log into Facebook.
2) Open your Settings (down-facing arrow at top right).
2) Click on Security in the menu on the left side of the screen.
3) Click on Legacy Contact in your list of Security Settings.
4) Add the contact by typing in your friend’s Facebook name.
You can also request an automatic account deletion after your Legacy Contact confirms your passing. You’ll find a link to do this (“Request Account Deletion”) at the bottom of the Legacy Contact section. Here is more information on the matter from Certus.
TWITTER AS A SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Whether or not you want your Twitter account to survive after your death deserves some careful thought. Have your 140-character ideas really earned a place in immortality? Do you want future generations to scroll through them?
Twitter does not have a “memorialization” option like Facebook, so it’s important to make your own arrangements with friends and family regarding your account. There is a process in place to allow them to deactivate your account if that’s what you want them to do.
How To Remove A Deceased User’s Twitter Account:
1) Start by going to the Privacy Form available here.
2) Pick the option that says “I want to request the deactivation of a deceased user’s account.”
3) Fill out the necessary fields on the report and then submit it.
4) Wait for an email from Twitter; this will come with detailed instructions on completing the process.
EMAIL AS A SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
After death, what gets done with your email account depends on the policies of your service provider. It’s a good idea to review these policies yourself and adjust your plans to suit them. Here is some advice for Yahoo and Google (Gmail) accounts:
Yahoo’s policy is strict about refusing to allow email access for anyone but the primary account holder. Relatives can send a request for account deletion after your death, but that is essentially their only option.
Google provides an Inactive Account Manager. This lets you set your own postmortem preferences. The Manager can even notify selected contacts after your death and share key information with them. Setting this service up is an excellent idea if you have any data in your Google account that relatives or close friends will need access to after you’re gone.
Making Your Own Arrangements
Addressing the fate of your social media accounts and other digital possessions after you die can be tricky. In many ways, the best policy is to be explicit and formal about your wishes and incorporate them into your will. Giving clear instructions about your digital life in your will ensures that your wishes are recorded and then carried out after you pass on.
There are multiple resources available to you that can help you organize your post-mortem wishes. One such tool is the digital directory offered for download by the BBC (see here). This can be used as a direct template, or you can simply use it as inspiration to create a digital asset-tracking sheet of your own. Provide clear directions for what should be done with each specified asset after you’re gone!