From announcing the birth of a child to uploading your wedding photo album, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have become a place where we share some of our most treasured thoughts and memories.
Did you know that, according to statistics released by We Are Social earlier this year, an impressive 59% of the UKs population was active on one or more of the top social networks in 2015? That’s 38 million active accounts in this country alone.
But did you also know that, according to statistics released by CPJ Field this month, 74% of people have never heard of a ‘digital heir’, whilst only 14% have shared social media passwords which would enable their loved ones to access their digital assets following their death.
Our research clearly shows the need for a greater awareness of what will happen to your digital assets following your death and, just like a will, the need to share your wishes with your next of kin.
Planning for Death in a Digital Age: A Platform-by-Platform Guide to Preparing your Digital Legacy
With recent reports suggesting that Facebook is on course to become a ‘mausoleum’ by 2098, as dead members outnumber the living, the need for a greater understanding of the protocol following death on this platform is becoming apparent.
Despite 90% of the people surveyed in our study not knowing what a Legacy Contact is, the feature where you can elect someone to manage your account after you have passed away has actually been available since February 2015.
Like an executor of a will, your legacy contact is able to write a pinned post for your profile announcing your death or providing information about a memorial service, respond to friend requests and update your profile picture or cover photo. There is also an option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook.
To elect a legacy contact you will need to do the following:
Go to your privacy settings in Facebook
Go to the Security section of the settings
Click to edit your Legacy Contact
Here you will be able to choose a friend to become your legacy contact following your death. Following your death, if your account is memorialised your legacy contact will be notified.
You can also request to have your account deleted following your death in this section.
For more information on what will happen to your Facebook account once you pass away visit the Facebook Help Centre.
Twitter is unable to provide account access to anyone other than the owner, regardless of your relationship. Twitter will however work with a person authorised to act on behalf of the estate or an immediate family member to have an account deactivated following your death.
To request the deactivation of a Twitter account of a user who has died, fill in the privacy form in the Twitter Help Center.
Like Twitter, Pinterest is unable to give out any personal or login information. They can however deactivate the account of a pinner who has passed away if their family gets in touch.
In a similar way to Facebook, Instagram allows friends or family of the user who has passed away to request to have the account memorialised.
Memorialised accounts can’t be changed in any way, and will remain visible to the audience the user shared them with. However, memorialised accounts will not appear in public spaces like Search or Explore.
Immediate family members are also able to request that the account be removed from Instagram entirely.
If you are active on any of the social platforms discussed above it is highly recommended that you discuss what you would like to have happen to your account following your death with a loved one. With regards to those digital assets that are of greatest personal value, like photographs, we would also recommend making copies of these in an easily accessible format, ensuring that your loved ones can treasure them and the memories you have created for good.