Sunday 22 July 2018

So what happens to your social media accounts when you die?

social media
social media

Mark O'Beirne

It's an unpleasant thing to think about, but living in the 21st century is that you'll leave social media accounts behind when you die.

When a loved one passes away, they leave behind all their worldly possessions; that now includes social media accounts. These paint a picture of someone’s life, including YouTube videos, life events shared on Facebook, and daily musings on Twitter.

It may have been a humorous topic in friends, but these social media accounts really do contain all of your thoughts and let you live forever as a machine of sorts.

Facebook says that there are around 30 million registered users who have passed away and 8,000 more die daily. It’s estimated that the number of dead Facebook users will overtake the number of living ones as early as the 2060s.

While it’s down the list of considerations when someone passes away, it’s worth finding out what happens to social media accounts when someone dies. PR companies may also want to take heed after Joan Rivers infamously posted about her new iPhone 6 from beyond the grave thanks to a scheduled sponsored post.

So how do various social media sites handle the passing of a loved one?


If your own mortality is something that you think about, Facebook allows you to say whether you’d like to have your account deleted or handled by a friend for prosperity in the event of your passing. A memorialised account will let friends share memories on the timeline, continue to display content that was previously posted, and doesn’t appear awkwardly in timelines as a suggestion for People You May Know, birthday reminders, or ads.

You can choose to have your account permanently deleted from the Legacy Contact section of your Security settings.

Find out more about how Facebook handles the death of a user on its Help Desk.


Twitter says that it will work with an authorised person or a verified family member to have an account deactivated. You can request the removal of a deceased user’s account from Twitter’s Support page. You will need to provide information about the deceased, a copy of your ID, and copy of the deceased’s death certificate to have an account removed. Twitter also says that it will remove imagery of the deceased user in certain circumstances. One thing that Twitter won’t do is provide account access to another user.


On the other hand, YouTube will grant access to the account of a deceased user under certain conditions. Google's Inactive Account Manager allows you to say who should have access to your information and whether or not you want your account to be deleted. If someone hasn’t set this up, Google says it will work with immediate family members and representatives to close the account of a deceased person.


Instagram also allows for the memoralisation of accounts, but it doesn’t allow for anyone else to log into the account. These accounts don’t show up in public spaces like in Search & Explore, but their posts will continue to be visible to the audience they were shared with.


The modern professional has more than likely connected with their fair share of individuals on LinkedIn. While birthday and work anniversarys are welcome reminders at times, they may not be what you want to see should someone have passed away. If you come across the account of someone who has died, you can contact LinkedIn to request the removal of an account. You will need to provide the member's name, the URL to their LinkedIn profile, your relationship to them, their email address, date they passed away, a link to obituary, and the company they most recently worked at.

Online Editors

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