What happens to your Social Media Accounts when you die?

Guess how many dead people profiles are on Facebook? 50 million! Guess how many might die this year? 3 million! Guess how large the world biggest cemetery is, Wadi-us-Salaam in Iraq, 5 million.  These are merely rough estimates. Therefore that there are lots of dead people's accounts on the internet is not something new.

What happens to your Social Media Accounts when you die?

And it is not just on Facebook. It is everywhere online. Some estimates point that there are over a 100 million dead people accounts on all social media platforms, and the Social Media Companies acknowledge the fact, and they are all trying to do something about it in their own different ways.

For example, Twitter would automatically delete an inactive account after 6 months. As long as there was no login, no tweet, no like, after 6 months, Twitter would delete it. While this might prevent some very unpleasant and jarring experiences like a getting a notification that it is your dead friend's birthday or the dead person appearing in your list of suggested friends as like what happens on Facebook, this might prevent family members and friends from accessing information from your account which they might want for whatever reasons.

What happens to your Social Media Accounts when you die?

Facebook meanwhile has a feature which lets your account become "memorialized". But your account needs to be reported as dead by proven family and friends. Notifications would stop coming from your account, nobody would be able to log in. While you are still alive though, you can set up a Legacy Contact who could manage certain aspects of your account when you are deceased like your picture etc.

As for Instagram, would also do a similar thing, but your family and friends need to provide an evidence to show your death. Something which Facebook also employs. As for Google, you can use the Google’s Inactive Account Manager.

This helps you decide whether you want a loved one to have access to your info or better still, your account was automatically deleted once your death has been reported to Google. If you even specify, your loved one might have access to information in your account.

But all these is not without its challenges, for example, in May last year, a German court in Berlin ruled in favour of Facebook to prevent parents of a 15 year old girl who killed herself access her account. 

They suspected that she died because she was excessively bullied. But her friend had reported her account as deceased which prevented her mum who knew her password from logging in. Facebook argued that when the girl was sending her messages, she did that under the assumption that they would remain private.

But it is also not easy for the Social Media Companies, especially Facebook. It wrote in a blog post, "What should we do with an account of a deceased young woman, for instance, when one of her parents wants to delete the account but the other wants to preserve it as a memorial for friends and family? How do we know what the daughter would have wanted? And what should we do if they want to see the private messages between the daughter and her friends – friends who are still alive and don’t want their messages to become public?"

Now that we are all sober, let us know down in the comment section below how you want your own social media accounts to be managed, when you die. Thank you.

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