Our social media profiles after death

Science

21 Jul 2018

What will happen to your digital personality when you die?

It's important to think about what happens to our digital selves after we die.

We have such a legacy on the internet, taking care of that sort of an online presence should be well thought about.

For this, several people also make a digital estate plan, just like a physical will.

Here's how you can prepare your major social media accounts for the inevitable.

Facebook

Facebook shows the word "Remembering" on a deceased user's profile

Facebook shows the word "Remembering" on a deceased user's profile

A deceased user's account on Facebook can be processed in three ways: it can be memorialized, it can be deleted, and someone can request downloading the contents of the account and then have it deleted.

While memorializing an account will turn it into a fan page or a digital shrine, deleting an account will permanently remove every information and data originating from that profile.

Instagram's policies on deceased users' accounts similar to Facebook

On Instagram too accounts can be either memorialized or permanently removed, but like Facebook, there is no way for you to pre-set this up yourself. After a user dies, a family member will have to report the death to Instagram and make the decision.

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Gmail and YouTube

Give Google data to someone who can safeguard/destroy it responsibly

Google's Inactive Account Manager allows you to specify whom should Google hand over your digital data to, after your account has been inactive for a particular length of time.

You can also set your account to be terminated 90 days after all the required information is shared.

Alternatively, a family member can contact Google about a deceased user's account and request specific items.

Twitter

Seems like Twitter hasn't given this much thought yet

Seems like Twitter hasn't given this much thought yet

Surprisingly, Twitter does not have a way of dealing with deceased users' accounts listed in its policy yet.

However, if a verified family member or a digital executor reaches out to Twitter regarding the death of a user, the micro-blogging platform will deactivate the account in question, and also remove the person's image upon request.

Protecting digital information after you're gone

Notably, all these social media platforms rely on someone who can notify them about the death of a user. Designate that close family member or friend preemptively. Since online accounts often contain financial information and personal pictures, it would be only smart to do so.

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