From the way we do business to the way we communicate with friends and family, social media has evolved from an online novelty to a critical factor in our day to day lives. So what happens to your profiles after you’ve passed on?
The answer varies from site to site. Let’s take a look at how some of the most popular social accounts handle it.
Facebook offers a few different options for handling the death of a user.
For starters, your account can be transitioned to a Memorialized Account after you pass away. This will keep your account active so that friends and family can share memories, leave messages, and see content that was posted in the past. Facebook will transition the account once they learn of your death, and you can actually designate a Legacy Contact to manage this for you. The Legacy Contact is the person who would be looking after your memorialized account. Legacy Contacts can accept friend requests, pin a tribute post, and change the profile pictures.
If you do not establish a Legacy Contact, friends and family can let Facebook know of your death so that it can be transitioned to a Memorialized Account.
If you do not wish for your Facebook page to remain active, you can choose to have it permanently deleted after you die by selecting “Delete After Death” in your profile settings.
Instagram’s policies closely mimic Facebook’s (Facebook owns Instagram, after all), however there are a few differences.
You can still have your account deleted or memorialized, but, unlike Facebook, Instagram does not feature any settings that allow you to manage this before your death. Therefore, the decision of what happens to your Instagram after you pass is virtually out of your hands.
Users can contact Instagram and report your passing, but only immediate family members can request the account be deleted.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter has very few policies for dealing with the death of its users, and they will not give out account access to anyone, including immediate family members. In the event of your death, Twitter will work with a person who is “authorized to act on behalf of the estate, or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased” to have an account deactivated.
Protecting Your Accounts
Like any good estate plan, the best thing you can do for yourself is prepare. If you have an active Facebook page, you should go ahead and establish a Legacy Contact as soon as possible. You also may want to consider storing all usernames and passwords in a safe, yet accessible, place so that family members or friends can access your profiles on your behalf. Furthermore, you may want to consider adding something to your will about who may or may not access your accounts.
If you have questions about the legal parameters around your social profiles after your death – or about estate planning in general – give the lawyers at Stanko, Senter & Mitchell a call today.