Registering a death
There are various options you can choose when dealing with the social media accounts when a loved one dies. You have three options:
Before deciding what to do, check if your loved one had left any instructions relating to their digital legacy. If they have, you will want to follow their wishes. Also, talk with close family and friends, so that you are all pulling together. There are several reasons why you might want to close their accounts including the chance that accounts might be hacked and sensitive or private information stolen.
The above are general, as requirements do vary depending on the social media account, and other proof may be required. If you are providing this information, remember to block out any data that doesn’t need to be seen such as a National Insurance number.
Accounts can be closed or memorialised. If a LinkedIn account is memorialised, access to the account is locked and a badge, ‘In Remembrance’ appears on the profile page. The historical activity of the deceased person is maintained including posts, articles, recommendations, connections etc. LinkedIn states that they will not disclose any usernames or passwords under any circumstances. In addition to the general information required for dealing with digital legacy, LinkedIn will ask you for the LinkedIn profile link/URL and their email address.
Once Facebook has been made aware that someone has died, the company policy is to memorialise the account. This then becomes a place where friends and family can share memories. It also helps to keep it secure by preventing anyone from logging on. Meta will not provide login information to anyone, as it is against the company’s policy, in any circumstances. A Facebook account can also be removed, and Facebook will ask you to provide certain documentation in order to do this.
Twitter will work with the person authorised to act on behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have the account deactivated. Once the request has been submitted, Twitter will email you with their instructions so that you can provide them with more details. These will include you supplying them with a copy of your ID, a copy of the death certificate and more information about the deceased person. Their Help Centre also provides an online form.
Once a valid request is received, Instagram will memorialise the account. They pledge that they will try to prevent references to memorialised accounts from appearing on Instagram in ways that may be upsetting to you, your family and friends. Instagram also takes measures to protect the privacy of the deceased person by securing the account. You can send a request to memorialise an account online. The account can also be removed with proof that you are an immediate family member and again there is a form to be filled out.
You will need to contact Pinterest and once the account has been deleted, it will not be accessible anymore. Pinterest does not delete inactive accounts.
Please note that if the Pinterest account is connected to a Google, Facebook or Twitter account, this should be deleted first.
Google will work with immediate family members and representatives to close the account of a deceased person where appropriate. Their primary responsibility is to keep people's information secure, safe, and private and they will therefore not give out the password or login details of the account. However, if the proper steps are taken, Google may allow you access to the content and may be able to help you with the following:
Google is YouTube’s parent company. Immediate family or a Power of Attorney can request that an account is deactivated. Naturally, proof of identity and the death certificate will need to be provided.
Snapchat has a contact form with the option of letting them know that the person has died. Again, their privacy policies will not grant you access to the account, but the account can be deleted with a copy of the death certificate.
We have covered memorialising and deleting accounts but you may feel more comfortable leaving the accounts as they are. If this is your choice, download or take screenshots of any photos or messages that you would like to keep. Some platforms have rules as to how long an account can remain inactive before it is deleted.
It is more than likely that when the time is right for you, there will be social media accounts that you have to consider. It is estimated that most Internet users have an average of 5.5 accounts ranging from websites to specific forums and special interest groups. There is no doubt that dealing with social media accounts when a loved one dies is hard, especially when there are precious memories held on those accounts.
There is no rush to action the accounts, so take your time with decisions over deleting accounts. We hope our guide has given you some help and where you can go to find out more information from the various social media sites.