Have you ever thought about what happens to your social media accounts when you die? Wondered what you should do with your loved ones account after they have passed away?
Death is the last thing on your mind when you think about social media.
For many of us, our daily thoughts towards social media are consumed with the information we read and share, with little thought given to the footprint of information that we leave behind when we die.
Why is this an issue you need to address today?
Facebook has one 1.44 billion active users a month and soon the number of dead Facebook users may outnumber the living. Around 8,000 Facebook account holders die every day, with some estimates putting the number of profiles belonging to dead people as high as 30 million.
Identity theft is also rising, with an estimated 770,000 Australia falling victim in 2014, with information used from social media accounts to access email accounts, buy mobile phones, order bank cards and more.
What can I do to plan ahead of death or if a loved one has passed?
Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all solution to this problem. Each social media platform, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Pinterest, has its own rules about deletion, deactivation, darter downloading and memorialisation.
- Tribute or memorialise page
Technology has undeniably changed the way we mourn and say goodbye. It used to be that you would put an advertisement in the newspaper to announce a death. But with the advent of new technologies that notice can now be posted online. And those who can’t attend a funeral or memorial service in person can now send their condolences via text, email, FaceTime, or post a message online. We can view obituaries online and sign digital guestbooks. We can show our support by hitting the “Like” button. The social media accounts of those who are no longer with us can serve as a tribute to a life taken too soon, uniting those who are mourning, providing them with a sense of community, and helping them feel connected.
Whilst all social media accounts give friends and family the opportunity to mourn Facebook is the only platform that allows you to memorialise an account of a deceased loved one.
This means that privacy settings remain the same and friends can still post on the page and tag the deceased person in photos. Once a page is memorialised, it can no longer be changed back to regular Facebook Page, or can be accessed by anyone including family, unless you appoint a legacy contact.
To memorialise your loved-ones account or report a deceased account, you need to go to:
- Help Centre – desktop help – manage your account – memorialised accounts.
- Plan ahead of time
There are also websites that can adopt your accounts, with your permission and continue to run them as you have requested. Dead social for example is the website that controls your accounts and can even make post for you or send emails from your accounts after your death. They help you prepare for a digital death and build your digital legacy. Dead social is a free social media tool that allows you to create scheduled messages. This allows you to say a final goodbye on your own terms and extend a digital legacy using the social web.
Find out more: http://deadsocial.org/
- Deletion or deactivation of your account
If left untouched, most accounts will continue to exist until reported or memorialised.
For Facebook, you can delete all deactivate your account. Do you activation says information and thus can be re-activated if need be, where is deletion is permanent, and you will not be able to re-activate your account.
When you deactivate your account, people won’t be able to see information on your timeline or be able to search for you. However account information is saved and friends will still be able to see some information, like messages you have sent. It is important to remember that some things you do on Facebook are not stored in your account, so Facebook will not be able to delete everything along with your account.
To deactivate your account you go to:
- Account menu – settings – security – deactivate your account.
To delete your account you will need to go to:
- follow the contact Facebook prompts under deactivating and deleting accounts.
Twitter accounts will automatically be deactivated if on used in six months.
Find out more: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15358
Google accounts have Inactive Account Manager which allows you to share parts of your account or data with a trusted contact, who will not be contacted by Google until Google deems your account to be inactive (this is determined by monitoring your last sign-ins, your history page, usage of Gmail and android check-ins). It sends an automated email with the subject line and content of your choosing, and explanation from Google as to why they are receiving the email. If you choose to share your data, the same email will contain a list of the data your contacts can access within a specified time period.
Find out more at: https://www.google.com/settings/account/inactive
If a family member dies and you would like to deactivate or delete their account for them (they have not left passwords or use services such as inactive account manager (Google or dead social), you will also need to provide proof of being an intimate family member, and sometimes provide the social media service with proof of death documentation.
If you have access to the account and wish to delete an Instagram account, (which will permanently remove your profile, videos and photos), you simply need to go to:
- Accounts – edit – I’d like to delete my account.
Find more information at: https://help.instagram.com/139886812848894
You can close your account on LinkedIn, which means shutting off your profile and removing access to all your LinkedIn information from their site.
Find more information at: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/1352
Downloading your data
Before Deactivating, deleting or disabling a social media accounts, you may want to download data from the social media platform. So here is a list to help you with that.
To download your data from Facebook go to:
1.settings – download a copy of your Facebook data
or look at the options at
- desktop help – privacy – accessing your Facebook data
To download the darter from your LinkedIn account you’ll need to go to:
- Privacy settings – account – request an archive of your data (under helpful links section)
From your account settings you can quickly and easily download darter that you created in a number of Google products.
Data is provided in a variety of open, portable formats see can Easley important data into other Internet services.
You can download your data via:
- Account settings – account tools – download data.
Instagram has a web service called Instaport which downloads your entire archive of Instagram photos to your computer.
Why shouldn’t you let your account or a loved one’s ‘sit-there’?
Accounts that are not automatically deactivated after an inactive time period can just sit there. However, this means that these accounts are open to hackers and security fraud, and at risk of people making scheduled or automatic notifications from the account. Dealing with stolen identity or receiving notifications from a deceased person’s account can be a distressing situation for all.