Social Media: You Can’t Take it with You

Facebook announced a new feature this week called Legacy Contact.  This new feature found in your security settings allows you to leave control of your account to someone upon your death who can memorialize your account for you.  Facebook previously accepted requests from loved ones to have the profile of a deceased removed or memorialized.  This new feature allows you to make the decision before your death and leave access and instructions to a loved one.

Upon your death, what will happen to your social media accounts and all of the content you have shared over your lifetime?  This is a serious question all generations must now consider and discuss with loved ones.  Social media platforms give you options on how an account of a deceased person can be left.

Let’s take a look at the options given to you by four of the most popular social media platforms.

LinkedIn
PrintLinkedIn allows anyone to report a profile of a person who has passed away.  An online form must be completed and a link to the online obituary is requested.  You will have to provide personal information about the individual like their email address, the day they passed away, the last company they worked, etc.

Pinterest
pinterestWith the social media sharing site Pinterest, there is unfortunately not a form to fill out or formal process to delete an account of loved one who passed away.  The account log in and password is needed to sign into the individuals account to then deactivate or delete the account.

Twitter
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To delete the account of a loved one on Twitter an immediate family member or executor of the estate will have to provide the deceased user’s Twitter name, a copy of the death certificate, a copy of their government-issued ID and signed statement.  The signed statement must include the name, email address, and contact information of the person making the request.  Along with their relationship to the deceased, link to the online obituary if available, a statement formally requesting the deletion of the account and provide any other information needed to match the Twitter profile to the death certificate.  This information must be mailed to Twitter Inc., c/o: Trust & Safety, 1355 Market St., Suite 900, San Francisco, California 94103.  There is not an online form to complete.  Twitter will respond with official communication via email.

Instagram
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Instagram gives you the option to memorialize or delete an account. When memorializing an account no one can log in to the account. The settings of the account will remain the same and will determine what information can be viewed by friends or the public. All of the posts made by the deceased will remain available for viewing. Anyone will be able to send direct photos or videos to the memorialized account. Instagram will not allow for the memorialized account to appear in searches on the platform.  To memorialize or remove an Instagram account proof of death will be required. Instagram requires the following information: deceased person’s birth and death certificate, proof of authority under local law stating you have the authority to represent the deceased person and an obituary. To request to memorialize or remove an account, you will have to fill out an online form.

When requesting to remove or delete the account of a loved one there is no guarantee this action will be undertaken in a timely manner. You will have to wait on the social media platforms to notify you the request has been completed. You do not have direct access to an individual who works with the company to ensure this action is completed.
What does all of this really mean when you are creating a will? Determine how you want to leave your social media accounts and who you would like to be the executor of your digital assets. Leave this person with the ability to access your passwords and make your last wishes regarding your social media accounts possible. You can decide before your death how you would like to leave your online legacy.

We are advised to keep our passwords protected, but this is one case where you will want to consider leaving a trusted person access. You do not have to directly give a person access to your passwords while still alive. There are multiple password protection companies who will safeguard your passwords until your death. Leave your executor with the contact information of the company who stores your passwords. Upon your death, the executor will be required to provide a lawful document stating they can have access to your passwords and your death certificate.

The services of these password protection companies do charge a minimal fee. An option to avoid paying a yearly fee for this service is to keep your passwords under lock and key and leave directions to an executor to access your passwords.  By leaving access to your passwords to your loved ones or an executor they can login and delete your accounts without having to request to remove an account through the social media site. This will make the process of removing your social media accounts less stressful on your loved ones and ensure your account is removed. If you choose to memorialize your account leave specific a directions your will.

The important issue is to decide what you want your online legacy to be on social media and how you will fulfill this through your last will and testament.