The only sure thing about life, is death. In today’s age of Social Media should you now be including what you would like to happen to your social media accounts in your will for when you pass away?
There are a staggering number of Social Media accounts across all platforms which belonged to people who are with us no more. According to a search I did of numerous article on the web, between 5 – 30 million Facebook accounts belong to deceased persons, but I have not been able to confirm the exact number, either way, there is a lot.
So what should you do if a family member has passed away?
There are several things that need to be done:
- Establish which social media platforms and/or blogs your loved one was a member of – you may need to do extensive search or call in a professional company to do the search for you.
- Chat with your family to decide whether you want the accounts totally removed, or left as a memorial. For some people having a place they can go to reminisce is helpful in the healing process, for others it is too painful a reminder.
- Don’t forget their email accounts. If they are receiving invoices via email it could result in missed payments and further unnecessary stress on the family, so it is important to track down any email accounts and have them closed also.
- Follow the information below for each of the platforms once you have decided whether you want the accounts deleted or left as a memorial.
- It is necessary to have proof of death and usually the email address which was linked to the account in order to close it.
This list is not comprehensive, I have only put information for the most popular platforms and email accounts as there are so many.
Facebook : there is a form to report a death and you can request the account be memorialised. A link to the form is here.
This is the policy “Memorializing the account: It is our policy to memorialize all deceased users’ accounts on the site. When an account is memorialized, only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in Search. The profile (timeline) will also no longer appear in the Suggestions section of the Home page. Friends and family can leave posts in remembrance.
In order to protect the privacy of the deceased user, we cannot provide login information for the account to anyone. However, once an account has been memorialized, it is completely secure and cannot be accessed or altered by anyone”.
If you wish to have the account removed you will need to follow the instructions here.
For WordPress.com If you have access to the blog you are able to either make the site private or remove it from within the blog. You cannot delete the account, only the blog. You can try and contact them at support
For WordPress.org you need to contact the host for the account and see if you can have the files removed. After some time if the website hosting fees are not paid it is likely the site will deactivate.
Twitter requires quite a lot of information to be MAILED or FAXED in (that’s right old school!) You can attempt questions by emailing at email@example.com. Details of the information you require are found here
LinkedIn advise “that there may be a time when you come across a profile of a deceased colleague, classmate, or connection. If this occurs, you can notify Customer Service that the profile still exists and may need to be removed. To close the account of a deceased LinkedIn member you’ll need to submit a Verification of Death form.” You can find help at this link.
Google+ If you have the logins for the account you can log in and delete the profile. Please see instructions for Gmail accounts for further assistance.
Gmail accounts: You may be able to request access to a deceased persons gmail however there is a stringent process to follow. Information is provided here .
Hotmail Accounts: Again the easiest way is to have the login and password for the account. Like Google, Microsoft has stringent policy in place. They require a lot of documentation and offer to ‘preserve’ data only – you will not be given full access to the account. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the email address, person’s name and that the person has passed away. Microsoft will create an “account snapshot” of all of the data in the account. You will then need to provide proof of death and numerous other records. If Microsoft are satisfied with what you have provided, the account data will be maintained for six months and then removed.
So as much as this is a sad subject, it is a necessary one and I hope it has you thinking.
It brings me back to my first question – should you identify in your will what you would like done with your accounts – a memorial or deleted? A facebook profile could be left as a lovely memorial – but also it could be a disturbing one, particularly if a person has taken their own life. It is a big decision to make. Further should you be leaving a list of your log in passwords and emails so that action can be taken to close accounts? I think in the future it will become part of the process to identify accounts in wills, but at this point in time it is still fairly new territory.
What are your thoughts?