Have you ever thought about what happens to your social media accounts when you die? Each social media platform (for example Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google) has its own rules about what to do with your account when you die. Palliative Care Australia has developed a guide to help you with this. Facebook has over 1.5 billion monthly active users, and in the near future it is estimated that the number of dead Facebook users may outnumber the living.
Unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to social media. Each social media platform, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google or the like, has its own rules about deletion, deactivation, data downloading and memorialisation.
Facebook provides the opportunity for pages to be memorialised. 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 a regular Facebook account. The page cannot be accessed by anyone, including family (unless you appoint a legacy contact).
Account users are encouraged to plan ahead and leave instructions and passwords to somebody who you trust so that they are able to carry out your wishes for your social media accounts. Google accounts also encourage you to give them the phone number of a trusted contact, who will be able to download your data if you choose to share it with them. 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 people may get scheduled/ automatic notifications from the account. Receiving notifications from or about a deceased person can be distressing for friends and family.
Twitter accounts will automatically be deactivated if unused in six months. You can close your account on LinkedIn, which means shutting off your profile and removing access to all your LinkedIn information from their site. 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. Once deleted, your account cannot be reactivated.
To find out more download Palliative Care Australia’s “Guide to Social Media Afterlife” here.