What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts After Death?
The Filipino netizen's digital footprint is becoming more prominent and show no signs of slowing down.
As the unofficial social media capital of the world, we spend an average of 21.5 hours online per week. It's undeniable that our identities are making their presence felt on the world wide web.
So what happens to all that when we die?
Personally, I have 4 Facebook friends who have passed on (that I know of). Three years later, I still see their profiles lurking on my feed. I recently peeked at the last chat we had through personal message on Facebook.
It's a bit unsettling at times, but it also had me wondering about what policies Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have surrounding the death of its account owners. Of the many social media accounts available, those three hold an online record of some of our most important digital footprints, such as our personal milestones, lifetime achievements, career records, current likes or dislikes, so I did a bit of sleuthing to find out.
Here's what I found.
Because the internet and its users are still relatively young (more so for Filipinos, where the average FB profile is age 23), dead users are still few and far between. But it's inevitable for them to outnumber the living: either in the year 2065 if Facebook membership does not grow, or 2130 if it continues to find new users on a regular basis.
To deactivate an account, family members can opt to go through the steps of putting down the deceased profile or turn it into a memorial page.
A memorialized page can be accessed by friends, so they can still post and view photos, but cannot tag photos, send messages, or send "friend" requests. Memorialized pages will also put a stop to birthday reminders and will not show up in "People you may know" prompts.
Facebook accounts will be deactivated only when reported or upon memorialization.
Twitter has a policy of deactivating accounts after 6 months of inactivity. For family members who specifically request for account deactivation, however, a verified family member or authorized persons with proper identification (government issued ID) are allowed to coordinate with officials on the matter. Be ready to have the deceased username, death certificate, letter of explanation, current address and proof of kin to start the process.
Perhaps the most important asset a LinkedIn account holder has are his or her business or professional connections, and there is a way for a deceased heirs or business partners/office colleagues to "export" these connections. Doing so will allow business partners to contact clients right away.
LinkedIn will not delete your profile until it is reported, in which case the standard procedure for account deletion applies: they will need proof like your relationship with the deceased, the account holder's information such as email address, name, last company the individual worked for. After this, they will work to make the deceased username and password unusable in the future.
Curious to find out more? Here's a useful info graphic on the subject.
Have you ever wondered about your what your social media "legacy" will be like? Let me know in the comments below: