New times bring up new questions to ponder. Twenty years ago, few would have wondered how to clean up our social media footprint after death. But that was then and this is now.
Today most Americans have digital lives ranging from Facebook to Twitter. And few loved ones are prepared to deal with removing those accounts from the internet. Some do have passwords saved for their loved ones to access. But given how often we get prompted to change them, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they are outdated by the time we actually go to use them!
If a loved one passes, there are various ways social media accounts can be shut down without passwords.
There are two options. The account can be closed.
Alternately, you can ‘memorialize’ the account: keep it online but with clear information that the account holder has passed away.
Given that there are over 30 million memorialized accounts on Facebook, it’s become a popular way to remember a loved one after their death. And given there are over a billion people on Facebook, and everyone of them will at die at some point, finding out how our loved ones want to go forward is a good idea.
For either option, click here to learn more.
After filling out the form found here, Twitter will ask for information about the deceased, a copy of your ID, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate before closing the account.
Twitter will also remove images of the deceased if they were taken “from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death”. I would presume this has to do with images taken of a loved one at an accident scene or a similar situation. To read more about that, click here.
Twitter also allows for the removal of accounts of incapacitated individuals as well. Click here to see the form.
Like Facebook, Instagram offers the option of memorializing or closing an account for the deceased. Click here to read more about the process.
As with Facebook, they require one of the following: The deceased person’s birth certificate, the deceased person’s death certificate or proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate.
Google has a rather good process in place. By setting up your Inactive Account Manager in advance, you can set the account to either close after a period of inactivity (your call as to how long) or send notice to a party of your choosing that your account is going to be closed. That person can download all of your content before it is closed.
If your loved one hasn’t set up the Inactive Account Manager, there are other ways of closing the account. Click here for details on that.
Yahoo has a far more cut-and-dried approach to closing the account of a loved one: close it or don’t. They don’t offer any options for accessing account information or emails. You can read their statement here.
There are more social media apps available and this only covers some of the best known ones.
It does seem however that social media and digital giants have now accepted and prepared for the digital deaths of its users appropriately.
Of course, having the password in place in advance is always a less complicated option, but it’s good to know that there are now viable ways to handle a loved one’s digital affairs.