When a loved one passes away, managing their social media accounts might not be your first priority. However, eventually, you’ll likely want to decide what to do with those accounts.
Many social media platforms offer three choices for handling a deceased person’s account: maintaining the page as is, transforming the page into a memorial dedicated to your loved one, or completely deleting the account. Each option has its unique advantages and drawbacks. Engaging in discussions with other family members is advisable to ensure collective comfort with the chosen course of action.
Keep the Account
Certain platforms, like Facebook, maintain accounts indefinitely, whereas others, such as Twitter, automatically remove accounts after periods of inactivity, typically six months in Twitter’s case.
Opting to keep the account open can help avoid immediate complications; however, it may result in platforms sending notifications prompting interaction.
Additionally, there’s a possibility that old friends who are unaware of the passing may mistakenly assume your loved one is still alive.
Memorialise the Account
On the page, it becomes evident that the individual has passed away. Platforms like Facebook use the term ‘Remembering’ before the person’s name, preserving all content on the page while preventing birthday reminders and excluding them from searches.
Notably, Facebook offers the option to designate ‘Legacy Contacts’—individuals authorised to assume control of the account upon notification to Facebook. These contacts can pin a message atop the page and enable friend requests, transforming the page into a memorial space where friends can share messages, providing comfort for some.
This approach is an efficient means to inform a broader audience about the loved one’s passing, particularly when reaching out to old friends proves challenging or contacting former colleagues and acquaintances becomes emotionally taxing.
Delete the Account
Opting to remove the account entirely ensures the individual’s account cannot be located online, and previous posts are shielded from scrutiny. While this provides the deceased with a measure of privacy, it comes at the cost of erasing all their posts, photos, or messages, making this decision potentially distressing for friends and family.
When a person you care about passes away, you have the option to either keep, memorialise or delete their Facebook profile. If your loved one made a decision about this, like assigning a legacy contact, it indicates their preference for memorialisation.
How to remove or memorialise the Facebook account:
- Collect the full name of the deceased individual on Facebook, along with their profile URL and a copy of their death certificate.
- Complete the necessary form at this link: Facebook Form.
- You have the option to either memorialise or delete the account.
Legacy Contact: Facebook also offers the option for a person to nominate a ‘Legacy Contact’ during their lifetime.
If your loved one appointed a ‘Legacy Contact’ before their passing, this person is responsible for managing the account after memorialisation.
A Legacy Contact can:
- Accept friend requests on behalf of the memorialised account.
- Pin a tribute post to the loved one’s profile.
- Change the profile picture and cover photo.
Legacy contacts cannot alter or remove any posts, read private messages, or manage friends to respect the deceased person’s privacy.
Note: A Legacy Contact cannot be added after someone has passed away, as it must be chosen by the account holder. Memorial accounts without a legacy contact cannot be modified.
Instagram provides users with options similar to Facebook when dealing with a deceased person’s account: keeping the account in its current state, memorialisation or deletion. Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not offer a legacy contact option.
How to remove or memorialise the Instagram account:
- Collect the complete name of the deceased, their Instagram username, proof of their passing (such as an obituary or death certificate), and the date of their passing.
- For memorialising the account, fill out this form: Memorialisation Form.
- If you intend to delete the account, you must establish that you are an immediate family member. Provide supporting documentation, such as a copy of the deceased person’s birth certificate, death certificate, or legal proof of authority under local law, demonstrating you are the lawful representative of the deceased person or their estate.
- To initiate the account deletion process, complete this form: Account Deletion Form.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not offer a memorialisation feature. It’s essential to know that Twitter automatically deactivates an account if it remains inactive for six months. To deactivate a Twitter account, authorisation must come from a person authorised to act on behalf of the estate or a verified immediate family member.
How to remove the Twitter account:
- To begin the deactivation process, collect the deceased person’s full name and Twitter handle. Complete the deactivation form at this link: Twitter Deactivation Form.
- Twitter will email you with instructions on how to submit more detailed information.
- Email Twitter the necessary information about the deceased, along with a copy of your ID and the death certificate.
YouTube exclusively offers the option to delete an account and does not provide a memorialisation feature. If your loved one was a content creator on YouTube, choosing to delete the account results in the removal of all the videos they produced. It’s advisable to ensure backups of these videos on alternative storage platforms like hard drives or cloud storage.
How to remove the YouTube account:
- To initiate the deletion process for a YouTube account, the individual undertaking this action must be an immediate family member or a legal representative.
- Submit a request to delete the account by visiting the support page: YouTube Deletion Request.
- Select the option ‘Close the account of a deceased user’.
- Enter the deceased person’s name, email address, details of a relative or legal representative, their date of death, and upload a scanned copy of your ID along with a scanned copy of their death certificate.
LinkedIn, much like Facebook, provides a feature allowing users to designate a legacy contact capable of closing their account in the event of their passing. If you are aware that your loved one has designated a legacy contact, reach out to them to carry out this task. In case this information is not known, a close friend or family member can contact LinkedIn to facilitate the deletion of the account.
How to remove or memorialise the LinkedIn account:
- Gather the Necessary Information. This includes the member’s name, URL linked to their LinkedIn profile, your relationship to the deceased, deceased’s email address, date of their passing, last place of employment, a link to their obituary or a scan of the death certificate.
- Complete this form to initiate the account memorialisation process: LinkedIn Memorialisation Form.
- Complete this form to initiate the account deletion process: LinkedIn Deletion Form.
For WhatsApp, the account deletion process requires access to the deceased person’s phone. Be aware that opting for account deletion removes all messages, voice notes, and photos exchanged between your loved one and their friends or family, potentially erasing precious memories.
How to remove the WhatsApp account:
- Open the WhatsApp app on the deceased person’s phone.
- Navigate to Settings and choose ‘Delete Account’.
- Enter the deceased person’s number when prompted.
- Optionally, select your reason for deleting the account from the drop-down menu.
- Confirm the action by selecting ‘Delete my account’.
Deleting a Snapchat account necessitates knowledge of the account’s username and password, allowing anyone with these details to execute the deletion.
How to remove the Snapchat account:
- Log in to the account portal using the account’s username and password.
- The account will be deactivated for the initial 30 days.
- After this period, the account and all associated Snaps, Chats, and Stories will be permanently deleted.
Keep in mind that you are not obligated to take any action
The decision to either keep, remove, or memorialise social media accounts is entirely yours. Some individuals find solace in maintaining the accounts as they are, while others seek closure through removal or memorialisation.
Should you choose to keep the account as is, it’s advisable to download any photos or messages you wish to retain. Certain platforms have regulations specifying the duration of inactivity before an account may be deleted.
For personalised guidance based on your specific circumstances, feel free to reach out to us at 0117 952 0698 or click on Contact Us. Alternatively, if you’d like to schedule a free first meeting, you can visit our Online Wills service page.