When someone you love dies, there are many practical tasks to handle, from arranging their funeral or memorial service to handling your loved one’s affairs. In our modern, online world there is another element to consider when a family member dies: what to do with their social media accounts after death.
In this guide, we’ll outline the options you have, how to make important decisions about someone’s social media account, and how to close or memorialize different types of social media accounts.
When someone dies, what happens to their social media accounts?
You might wonder what happens to someone’s social media accounts after death. Since social media companies have no way of knowing that the person has died, their accounts automatically close. You’ll need to make the decision of what you’d like to do with their accounts and contact the company to request those changes. If you don’t do anything to close the accounts, they’ll stay open.
Deciding what to do with social media accounts after death
When someone dies, you have two main choices of what to do with their social media accounts — leave them active so people can remember your loved one and pay their respects or close social media accounts after death.
Some social media platforms, like Facebook, offer a third option of memorializing the account, which adds “Remembering” before the person’s name. When an account is memorialized, nothing can be posted from the account, but people can still visit, view pictures, and watch videos. Friends and family might still be able to post to the page, depending on the privacy settings on the account.
Reasons to leave an account active:
· You keep access to online accounts after death, including the deceased’s photos, videos, and posts
· You can use the account to send messages about the deceased including arrangements for funeral or memorial services
· It provides an opportunity for friends and family members to pay their respects
Reasons to close or deactivate an account:
· You don’t want painful memories showing up on social media
· You want to prevent people from posting things that might be upsetting
At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. You may also want to discuss what to do as a family. Of course, you can also close some social media accounts and keep others open.
If you decide to remove the account but want to keep photos and videos, make sure you do it before you close the account. Typically you can download these items to your computer.
What you need when closing social media accounts after a death
Every social media platform has its own process for closing a social media account after death. However, you’ll usually need four main things to gain access to online accounts after death:
1. The name of the person who’s died
2. Their profile name, ID, or link
3. Proof of death (e.g., death certificate)
4. Proof of your relationship to them (e.g., a birth certificate or marriage license showing your relationship)
Below you can find more detailed instructions for individual social media platforms.
How to remove a deceased person from social media platforms when they die
When closing social media accounts after death, you’ll need to follow the specific instructions for each platform. We’ve listed the major social media platforms and what you’ll need to do below.
Facebook gives you the option to either memorialize or delete a Facebook account when someone dies.
Memorializing an account means that it still exists for people to visit, however, no one can log in to the account. The profile also won’t show up in public places, such as under “People you may know” or in birthday reminders. Depending on the account settings, people may be able to post on the timeline of the memorialized account.
To request the memorialization of a Facebook account for someone who’s died, you’ll need to submit a form to Facebook. You can do that here.
Alternatively, you can ask for an account to be deleted. Again, you’ll need to submit a form through Facebook, which you can find here.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so the process following someone’s death is similar. You can either memorialize or delete the account.
Twitter doesn’t have a memorialization option, but you can ask them to deactivate the account. You’ll need to submit a form and say how you’re connected to the person who’s died. You can fill out the form here.
Snapchat gives you the option to deactivate someone’s account when they die. You can do this through their support page. You’ll need to provide a copy of the death certificate so they can verify that the person’s died. You can submit a request to deactivate an account here. Under “What is your concern with this account?,” select “The person passed away” and fill out the fields underneath.
Pinterest doesn’t have an official form for deactivating accounts. However, you can ask them to delete the account by emailing Pinterest with the person’s account details and proof of their death.
Send an email to [email protected] and include:
- Your name
- The name of the person who’s died
- The email address they used for their Pinterest account
- A link to their Pinterest account
- Proof of death, such as a death certificate or obituary
- Proof of your relationship to the person, e.g., marriage certificate or a public mention of your relationship
LinkedIn has three options for when someone’s died. Their account can be deactivated or memorialized, or their profile can be hidden. If you’re authorized to act on behalf of the deceased, for example, you’re a family member, then you can request deactivation or memorialization via this link.
Alternatively, someone who isn’t authorized to act on their behalf can report them as deceased, which won’t remove their account but will hide their profile.
Currently, the only way to close someone’s TikTok account when they die is if you have access to their account, meaning you’ll need their login and password information. You can then delete the account via the normal channels. Unfortunately, at the moment there are no other options to close or memorialize someone’s TikTok account.
How to memorialize a Facebook account
Facebook allows you memorialize an account after someone’s died, adding “Remembering” before their profile name. This gives you another option besides closing the account or keeping it open. It’s easy to request this change in status. You can do so by going here and filling out the form.
What to do with an Instagram account when someone dies?
Just like with any of the social media platforms, the choice is up to you. For Instagram, you have three choices to either close the account, memorialize it, or keep it open. Instagram doesn’t have any rules you have to follow so make the decision that’s best for you and your family. Once you decide which option is for you, you can request to memorialize it here or close the account here. If you choose to leave it open, you don’t need to do anything.
Should you post on social media when someone dies?
It’s up to you whether you decide to announce someone’s death on social media. It can be a good way to reach lots of people at once. However, you should make sure that all close family and friends have been told about someone’s death in person or over the phone before posting about it on social media.
Creating a “digital will” before you die
Before you die, you can leave instructions for what will happen to your digital footprint, such as social media accounts. You can request whether you’d like family to close or memorialize your accounts. You can also download all your online data, such as photos and videos, and leave them for your family on a hard drive or on the Cloud.
If your family member didn’t leave any specific instructions, then it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to manage their digital footprint.
Although making decisions when someone dies can be time consuming, it’s also important to process your own grief. Learn how to deal with grief in a healthy way as you navigate the emotions that might come up for you and make sure to take time to allow for grief and healing.