Knowing what to do with a loved one’s social media accounts when a loved one dies can be tricky. Some find the ghostly notifications deeply upsetting, whilst others like to re-read old messages and posts to remind themselves of precious moments. Some people even use the direct messaging function as a way to write down the things they wish they had said whilst that person had been alive.
There’s no right or wrong way to handle the online accounts of your loved one, but there are options. In this article, we’ll guide you through all the pros and cons of each choice, along with a step-by-step guide on how to take action for each account.
A lot of social media accounts will give you three options: Keep the page as it is, delete the account altogether or turn the page into a memorial of your loved one. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s wise to talk to other members of the family so you’re all comfortable with whatever you decide to do.
Some platforms such as Facebook will keep accounts open indefinitely, whilst others, such as Twitter, will automatically delete accounts after periods of inactivity (in the case of Twitter, this is six months). Keeping the account open allows you to avoid the issue altogether, but it can cause the platforms to send you notifications encouraging you to engage with them, or your loved one may be mistaken for being alive by old friends who may not have heard of their passing.
Deleting the account altogether means that they can’t be found online and old posts can’t be scrutinised by others. Deleting affords the deceased a certain level of privacy, but it will delete all of their posts, photos or messages, so doing this can prove painful to friends and family.
On the page, it becomes clear that the person has passed. On Facebook, for example, the phrase ‘Remembering’ is inserted before the person’s name, and it keeps all the person’s content on the page, whilst removing birthday reminders and taking them out of searches. Facebook even allows users to appoint ‘legacy contacts’. These are people who can take over the account once Facebook has been alerted, pin a message to the top of the page and allow the page to accept friend requests. The page effectively becomes a memorial book for people to post messages, which some can find very comforting. It can also be an effective way of letting a lot of people know about your loved one’s passing, especially if you’re having trouble tracking down old friends, or are finding the process of contacting old colleagues or acquaintances very painful.
Here, we cover the following social media accounts and what you can do with them when someone dies:
In this easy to follow step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to contact Facebook and action whatever you have chosen. Any friend or family member connected with the deceased can do this.
Here, we’ll show you how to deactivate an account on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t currently allow you to memorialise a page like Facebook does. Also, it’s worth noting that Twitter will automatically deactivate an account after six months of inactivity. To deactivate a Twitter account, you must be a person authorised to act on behalf of the estate or a verified immediate family member.
Instagram – like Facebook – will allow you to either memoralise or delete your loved one’s account. Once you’ve decided, you’ll need to run through the following steps:
With WhatsApp, you can only delete the account if you have access to the deceased person’s phone. It’s worth remembering that by deleting the account, you will delete all messages, voice notes and photos that have been sent between your loved one and their friends or family. A lot of special memories could be lost. If you choose to delete their account, follow the instructions below.
To delete a Snapchat account, you’ll need to know the username and password for the account. Anyone with these details can delete the account.
YouTube only allows you to delete a YouTube account, and not to memorialise it. If your loved one was a content creator on YouTube, by deleting the account, you will delete all the videos they produced. It may be worth checking that you have these on other storage systems such as hard drives or cloud storage. To delete a YouTube account, you’ll need to be an immediate family member or a legal representative.
LinkIn, like Facebook, has a function that allows you to nominate a legacy contact who can close their account if they know the person has passed away. If you know your loved one has done this, ask their legacy contact to enact this. If not, a close friend or family member can get in touch with LinkedIn to get the account deleted. Here’s how:
Dealing with this particular area of death admin can be really hard. There are choices to make, you may end up negotiating or even arguing over family members over the best decision regarding these accounts and the paperwork required to get them closed can be tough to pull together. Here are our tips on how to make this process a little easier: