What happens to my social media accounts when I pass away?

With all the controversy with the updating of Whatsapp’s privacy policy, it is a natural question to ask what happens with one’s social media accounts when they pass away. Each social media platform has specific policies for what will happen when you pass away, though until a family member or loved one follows that policy your account will remain open.

Facebook gives the option to memorialize your account. A family member or loved one must send a request to Facebook naming the deceased and providing the date of death and proof (eg: a death certificate). Facebook will review and then memorialize the account. You can manage, under general settings, what happens after the memorialization or your account. You have the option to manage tribute posts of your profile, request the removal of your account, respond to new friend requests and update your profile picture and cover photo. Facebook also allow for you to nominate a legacy contact which will be able to manage your account when you pass away.

Instagram also gives the option to memorialize your account. Any person can request that Instagram memorialize your account, that person will have to provide proof of death. This has the effect to freeze the account and preventing is from appearing in public spaces. If you want the account deleted then the person who submits the request must either prove that he/she is a ‘verified’ immediate family member or is the lawful representative of the deceased (eg: the executor) together with the death certificate.

Twitter will deactivate the account of the deceased when either a ‘verified’ immediate family member or the executor submits the request. The person who requests the deactivation of the account must provide information pertaining to the deceased and a copy of their own ID copy and the death certificate of the deceased.

Snapchat and TikTok do not have an explicit policy to memorialize your account, rather they both give the option to contact the platform and request that the account be deleted. They will require a death certificate in order to proceed with the deletion.

Except for Facebook, there is little one can do with regard to memorializing your social media accounts while you are still alive. However, your executor and immediate family will have the authority to close or memorialize your social media accounts after you pass away. This means that having a list of the different social media accounts which you use will assist them in this process.

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