More than 70% of American adults use social media, according to Pew Research; that’s up from about 50% in 2011.
Social media use continues to grow in popularity as a platform for younger and older users to keep in touch with loved ones and post about their lives. But, what happens to your loved ones’ social media accounts when they die?
After the death of a loved one, their social media page may remain up and continue to receive messages, friend requests, likes and comments. Many social media platforms now have guidelines for removing a late loved one’s pages or “memorializing” them, by preserving the page but turning off its interactive functions.
Facebook can memorialize accounts for users who have died once a family member or close friend informs Facebook of the death.
To maintain account security and user privacy, Facebook won’t share their login information, and no one will be able to log into the account once it’s memorialized. To show the profile’s status, the word “Remembering” will be added before the individual’s name on their profile.
Your loved one’s photos and posts will remain visible, and family and friends may be able to share memories about the deceased. But, their profile won’t appear in public places or pop up as a suggested friend.
You can prepare your own Facebook page for your death in advance by choosing to designate a legacy contact who is at least 18 years old. In the event of your death, this contact will be able to accept friend requests, pin a tribute post and change your account’s profile picture and cover photo after your death.
Your legacy contact will not be able to log in to your account after your death, read old messages or make changes to your friends list.
To select a legacy contact:
- Go to “Settings” under “Settings and Privacy” in your Facebook account.
- Select “Memorialization Settings”
- Choose the friend you wish appoint as your legacy contact.
- Facebook will inform your legacy contact of your choice and will notify them if your account is memorialized.
Alternately, you may also choose to have your Facebook count deleted if you die, instead of memorialized.
If you do not own your late loved ones’ account and wish to delete it, you must provide Facebook with their death certificate. If you can not access their death certificate you will need to provide “proof of authority” in the form of a birth certificate, power of attorney, a last will and testament or estate letter, and proof an obituary, memorial card or other proof that your loved one died.
For more information on Facebook’s policies, click here.
Here’s what happens to email accounts after someone dies.
Like its parent company, Facebook, Instagram offers a memorialization option. To memorialize someone’s account, you must provide Instagram with proof of death, such as a link to an online obituary or a news article.
Memorializing an Instagram account freezes it in time, with all photos, videos, and comments visible to the audience they were originally shared with.
Privacy settings can not be changed after an account is memorialized. Like on Facebook, the word “remembering” added in front of the person’s name on their profile. The account will also no longer appear in Instagram’s “Explore” section to “prevent references to memorialized accounts from appearing on Instagram in ways that may be upsetting to the person’s friends and family,” Instagram explained on its website.
To delete the Instagram account of a loved one who has died, a verified immediate family member must submit official documentation, including their certificate, death certificate or a power of attorney.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram account owners can not make selections about what should happen to their accounts after their deaths.
You can read more on Instagram’s policies here.
You can only do so much to prepare for your death. But, Navy Mutual can help you prepare and help your family navigate issues that arise after your death. Download our Estate Planning: Personal Log to document information about your social media accounts and your wishes for what happens to them. To speak with a representative, schedule an appointment. If you’re interested in protecting your family with life insurance, you can get a quote online.