The sad truth is that there is one thing that we can never escape and that is death. Following the death of a loved one closing down someones Facebook is almost certainly never going to be on the top of the agenda but in the social age it’s likely to become a consideration. With over 30 million UK users on Facebook alone there are a lot of people that will ask this question at some point: ‘what happens to my social media accounts when I die or what do I need to do to close an account after someone has died?’
Facebook report that there are over 30 million users that have died and continue to exist somewhere in the world wide web. That is just one platform. These figures don’t take into account the number of people that use other social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram.
Here are the answers we have gathered:
Facebook allows you to add a ‘legacy contact’ who can take limited control of your account after you’ve passed away. You also have the choice as to whether you would like your Facebook account permanently deleted after you’ve died or if you would like to have your profile memorialised meaning friends and family can post messages of remembrance.
For information please visit the Facebook Help Page.
Twitter says that in the event of the death of one of its users they can work with a person authorised to act on the behalf of the estate (an executor), or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased, to have an account deactivated.
In the event of the death of a user the account provider (Twitter for example) will be likely to ask for identification from the family member or executor including a copy of the death certificate. Access to the twitter profile will not be given to anyone else.
For more information please visit the Twitter Help Page.
Much like Facebook, Instagram will memorialise the account of the deceased person on notification of their death. Posts the deceased person shared stay on Instagram and are visible to the audience they were shared with, but memorialised accounts don’t appear in public spaces like searches.
For more information please visit the Instagram Help Page.
If you have an iTunes account and music then there could be problems if you were to die. When you sign up for an Apple ID you agree to the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions. It doesn’t mention what happens in the event of a death, but it does feature the following statement:
‘You may not rent, lease, lend, sell, transfer distribute, or sublicense the Licensed Application and, if you sell your Mac Computer or iOS Device to a third party, you must remove the Licensed Application from the Mac Computer or iOS Device before doing so.’
This suggests that when you die, your iTunes content becomes inaccessible. But this isn’t necessarily the case. The content remains locked to that account and there is no way that you can pass it on to another person.
You can appeal to Apple staff directly at iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com to discuss the situation. We know that in the past Apple staff have stepped in to offer help to people, although they may ask you to prove that the relative has died and prove that they owned the account you are trying to gain control of.