Social media has taken the world by storm since MySpace hit the first million active user milestone in 2004. Since then, social media has been an integral part of billions of people around the world, whether for socializing, business opportunities and marketing, sharing information, or virtual interaction.
There are billions of active users in several social media platforms, led by social media giant Facebook (now Meta), with a staggering 2.91 Billion monthly average users (MAU). Following Facebook is the video-sharing app and social media platform, YouTube, with almost 2.2 Billion MAUs.
Then there are also the photo-sharing app Instagram (2 billion MAUs), the Chinese video-hosting app TikTok (1 billion MAUs), the microblogging platform Twitter (396 million MAUs), and the social media site for professionals LinkedIn (310 million MAUs).
However, since these platforms have already penetrated billions of users worldwide from all ages and walks of life, it is only natural for some users to pass away while still being considered active users, leaving their social media footprint and personal data, among the many things they leave behind.
When this happens and a social media user dies, what will happen to their accounts and data? Is there a way for them to set up a legacy contact or for their loved ones to memorialize their social media accounts when the inevitable day comes to avoid potential data breaches and identity theft?
Facebook allows two options for people curious about what will happen to their accounts when they pass away. The first option is to appoint a legacy contact you set (while you’re alive) that will have access and authority over your account once your profile has been memorialized. The other is to request the permanent deletion of your account.
A memorialized Facebook account allows friends and family members to share their memories about a person and celebrate their life. The word ‘Remembering’ will indicate if an account has been memorialized.
To memorialize an account, a friend or family member of the deceased may request it through this page, along with some details, including the profile URL, date of death, and a scan or photo of a document verifying the claim. You may select one of the following: death certificate, obituary, memorial card, or other related documents.
On the other hand, if you choose the permanent account deletion if you pass away by changing the setting. You may go to Settings & privacy —> Settings —> Memorialization Settings —> Request that your account be deleted after you pass away —> Delete After Death.
Instagram is another company under the umbrella company of Meta Platforms, including Facebook. However, Instagram’s memorialization method does not have the legacy contact detail option.
Instagram accounts can be memorialized upon a request on this page from friends and family members by providing the full name and Instagram username of the deceased, date of death, and proof of death, including a link to the obituary or a news article.
However, immediate family members can request the full removal of the deceased’s account by providing proof of their relationship with the person, such as a birth certificate, death certificate, or other proof of authority, through this page.
YouTube is the most popular video-streaming platform under Google. Similar to Facebook, YouTube also allows the account owner to choose someone to take over their profile in case of death by setting up an Inactive Account Manager.
Your Inactive Account Manager will be notified by Google once an account suddenly becomes inactive. You can choose 3, 6, 12, or 18 months of inactivity before they contact your designated account manager.
Family members or legal representatives can request the closure of the account, request for some content, or even request funds from the deceased user’s account by providing personal information and a government ID, death certificate, or other related documents. You can find more details from Google here.
Though Twitter currently doesn’t have a memorialization option, they still allow family members, legal guardians, and other authorized persons to request the deactivation of the deceased person’s account through this page. They will first require the deceased user’s Twitter handle and full name.
After the request has been submitted, Twitter will email a separate instruction regarding additional details of death, a copy of their ID, and a copy of their death certificate to ensure that only authorized people are requesting the closure of the account in good faith.
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LinkedIn allows two options for a deceased user’s account: memorializing or closing their account. Upon reporting the user’s death, LinkedIn hides their account so no one can search for them anymore or even be visible within the platform. You may request the removal of a deceased user here.
Immediate family and authorized representatives can request the memorialization or deletion of the deceased user’s account, provided they have the necessary information and documents, like their death certificate.
Memorialized Accounts are locked and inaccessible to anyone and will display the words ‘In remembrance’ below their name.
Unlike the social media platforms mentioned above, Tiktok doesn’t have a way to memorialize their deceased users’ accounts or even allow immediate family members or legal representatives to close their accounts at the moment.
So, for now, the people who can only access a deceased person’s account to delete it if they know the person’s username and password. To deactivate a TikTok account, simply go to Settings and Privacy —> Manage account —> Delete account.
Social media has been an integral part of many people’s lives, and it’s good that they allow the memorialization of their accounts to celebrate and commemorate their lives. Though there will always be sadness along with their death, you may still remember them through their feed.