Social media is a regular part of our daily lives. We scroll through Facebook to check in on our friends, tweet our thoughts on Twitter and post our daily happenings, pictures and videos on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. For many of us, our social footprint grows bigger every day.
Most of us, however, don’t give much thought to what happens to our social media accounts when we die. Some of the services we use have plans in place to address a post-mortem plan, but most don’t. This leaves your family to navigate closing your accounts in your absence, and it’s more difficult than it may seem.
Just like with any estate plan, it’s a smart idea to plan ahead for how to handle these accounts when you die. Each service has its own rules regarding your social media legacy and it’s important to know what they are.
Facebook has the most comprehensive plan in place allowing you to set preferences in the event of your death. You can choose to either have your account memorialize you or be deleted permanently. If you choose the memorialize option, your page becomes a place for your friends to remember you and pay tribute. Friends can post on your page and existing pictures and posts are still visible. Facebook allows you to designate a legacy contact – someone who can look after your account in your absence.
Instagram allows your page to become a memorial as well, but doesn’t allow you to indicate this preference ahead of time. When you die, family members can request that your page either become memorialized or deleted, but they need to contact the service with proof of the death. Different than Facebook, if your account becomes a memorial, it will no longer accept new posts, but previous posts are still visible.
Twitter doesn’t have a post-mortem plan in place, but your relatives or friends can contact the service to request that your account be deleted. Your username and proof of the death will be requested initially, with follow up information requested later.
LinkedIn and Snapchat
According to the online resource, the Digital Beyond, LinkedIn and Snapchat have yet to establish policies for when a user dies. However, family members can request an account be deleted with the proper proof of death and identification.
Without many post-mortem social media policies in place, it’s important to include your preferences and information as a part of your estate plan. At the very least, leave a list of your user IDs and passwords with a trusted family member. They’ll appreciate having this information–it will make things easier for them in an otherwise emotional time.