It is a morbid thought, but while we know that we don’t live forever, our online lives do. Since the internet is eternal, what exactly happens to our digital accounts when we die?
On Facebook, users have two options. In either incidence you have to select a legacy contact, who is in charge of alerting Facebook to your passing.
The first option is to permanently delete the account should you pass away. This means that someone will have to let Facebook know that you’ve passed away, after which all of your messages, photos, posts, comments, reactions and info will be permanently removed.
The second option is to appoint a legacy contact to look after your memorialised account. A memorialised account allows friends and family to post to your wall and share messages and memories. The profile doesn’t appear in public spaces and will have the word “Remembering” next to the name.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, follows similar protocols when a person dies. The Instagram account is memorialised once they have been alerted that the account holder has passed away, and won’t appear on public searches. But unlike Facebook, no one can can log into the account. Instagram require proof of death and only an immediate family member of that person can request the account be removed entirely from the platform.
A person authorised on behalf of the estate or immediate family remember can request for the Twitter account to be deactivated. Twitter focuses on preventing the deceased’s account from being spammed with distressing or harmful imagery or messaging, rather than dealing specifically with memorialisation.
While not thought of as one of the most active social media accounts, LinkedIn’s protocol for a deceased user is pretty efficient. Users just have to submit their name, a URL link to their profile, their relationship to the person, their email address, the date they passed away, link to an obituary and the company they most recently worked at.