After you pass away, your physical presence is missed by your loved ones who are left mourning your loss. Often they will spend time looking at your old photos to remember you or see an item of yours they inherited and think of you fondly. But what happens to your digital presence after you die? How does that factor into the way you are remembered?
Social media is a ubiquitous part of many of our lives, regardless of age. For a number of us, it is the new photo album that used to sit on the coffee table or the journal where we wrote with our thoughts and witticisms. Those things are precious to the people we leave behind. Luckily, for most major social media platforms, not all is lost upon our death.
Facebook: legacy and memorials
Facebook gives you an option to choose a legacy contact for your account who will make the final call about what should happen to its content. Think of it as an executor of your social media will. They will have full control over the account upon your passing. You can make the decision now about what you’d like to have happen to your Facebook profile in the event of your death: permanently delete it or turn it into a memorialized account.
Memorialized accounts feature the word “remembering” before your name. Friends and family are allowed to share memories or view old content you posted. This account can’t be logged into and unless a legacy contact is established before it becomes memorialized, one cannot be added later. For users who want family members to enjoy their shared memories after their passing and allow a loved one to make that change upon their death, setting up a legacy contact and choosing to have them memorialize your profile is a good option.
What about Instagram or Twitter?
Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, the process is fairly similar. Instagram accounts can be memorialized, but there is no process for setting up a legacy contact to take control. However, they can use your death certificate to memorialize the account or have it deleted, whichever is preferred.
Twitter does not have a memorialized account option, but they can work with a verified family member or whoever is authorized to act on behalf of your estate to deactivate the account. The person acting on your behalf can request an archive of your tweets so loved ones can still read them after the account is deactivated.
One factor to remember is that social media platforms will not give out your login information upon your death, so if you want family members to have complete access to your accounts after your passing, you should include it in your will or other directive. Since passwords can change, it may be simplest to include instructions for how to get into your email account. That way, family members can trigger a Reset Password email if your social media password changes.
It may seem trivial to plan for what happens to your social media presence when you die, but words and photos from you mean so much to your loved ones after you’re gone. Coming up with a plan for what you want to happen to these profiles and how family members are able to enjoy those memories can bring them some comfort during a difficult time.