Written by Bethany Stoutamire (Former SDSU Extension Aging in Place Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA Member) under the direction and review of Leacey E. Brown.
As we get older, many of us begin to prepare for potential illnesses and our inevitable passing by creating documents such as wills or funeral plans. This documentation helps ensures that our wishes will be carried out after our deaths and help ensure that our loved ones may be spared some of the stress of making these decisions in a time that is already emotionally draining. However, in this age of technology, more and more people are wondering what happens to their social media account when they die and are making decisions about their digital legacy.
One of two things can happen if you have a Facebook account when you pass away; it can either be deleted or memorialized. A memorialized account will have the word ‘remembering’ next to the person’s name on the account. Content the account holder previously shared, such as posts and pictures, will still be available to Facebook friends. Depending on the settings of the account, friends and family can also continue posting on the Facebook wall. Facebook also recommends setting up a legacy contact for your account, so someone can manage your account when you pass away as an account without a legacy contact can’t be changed. However, you can also set up your Facebook account to be deleted after you die, which will occur when Facebook learns of your passing. Instructions about how to do this can be found online. If one of your loved ones has passed away, this form can be used to request the memorialization of a page or to have it taken down.
As with Twitter, when an individual passes away the family can contact Instagram and after providing proof of death, can request to have the account taken down. This communication is usually done through email.
Putting It All Together
Your digital legacy is yours to erase or preserve. While figuring out what to do with social media accounts is low priority compared to things such as wills and health care directives, having conversations with loved ones about social media accounts can give both you and them peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out to the best of your loved ones’ abilities.
References & Additional Readings:
- What Happens to Your Instagram Account When You Die?
- What Happens to Your Twitter Account After Death
- What Will Happen to My Facebook Account if I Pass Away?