What Happens to Social Media Accounts When a Loved One Dies?

It’s a question our staff is hearing more and more often these days at Staab Funeral Homes: “My sister/aunt/friend has died, but their social media is still active. What can I do to turn it off?”

Others have asked us what will happen to their own posts, photos, and videos after they die. Certainly, these questions and concerns are valid. For one thing, it can be very upsetting to see certain content on a page after a death or to learn of a death via social media. There is also a risk of identity theft, financial scams, or ad frauds – especially without regular monitoring of an account.

At Staab Funeral Homes, we want to walk alongside you any way we can, particularly during life’s most difficult moments. As a family-owned funeral home, we’re invested in our community and do whatever we can to help; it’s our way of communicating that you can trust us.

This includes answering death-related questions like the ones above. We hope you find the following information helpful. We invite you to contact us with further questions or if you’re interested in putting your own funeral and burial arrangements in writing so your family doesn’t have to make these decisions while under stress.

When it comes to social media, consider this information:

Facebook

Facebook has made it possible to choose a “legacy contact,” or someone who can monitor an account after a death. This includes managing tribute posts, requesting the removal of the account, and updating profile and cover photos.

Of course, the legacy contact won’t be able to post or see messages until after death. Per Facebook, users can also request to have their account permanently deleted after death instead of choosing a legacy contact. Once someone alerts Facebook of a death (providing they have a birth certificate, death certificate, or proof that the person making the request is a lawful representative), all of the information, photos and posts will be permanently removed, and no one will be able to see the profile again.

Instagram        

Instagram also offers a memorialization option that requires proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article. They do not provide information to log in to another person’s account. Rather, the account is simply frozen. Instagram also offers the option to delete the account entirely, which requires additional official documentation such as a birth or death certificate or proof that the person making the request is a lawful representative.

Snapchat

This platform does not offer an extensive death policy. Instead, the site features the following statement:

We are so sorry for your loss. We would like to assist you in any way possible.

Our privacy policies do not allow us to grant access to the account. 

We can delete the account for you if you provide us with a copy of the death certificate.

To delete the account, Snapchat requires a death certificate. If you want someone to access your account, you will need to give them your log-in information.

Twitter

In the event of the death of a Twitter user, they will work with an authorized person or verified immediate family member to have an account deactivated.

After submitting a request, Twitter will email instructions for providing more details, including information about the deceased, a copy of ID, and a copy of the death certificate.

Action Steps

Now that you’re aware of how different platforms approach and handle this topic, what can you do?

  1. Think about what you would like to be done with your accounts.
  2. Select a legacy contact (be sure to talk with them about this first).
  3. Give your login information to someone you trust.

In many areas of life, it pays to plan ahead. A little preparation goes a long way, and this includes planning for the end of life. If you’re interested in learning about putting your own funeral and burial preferences in writing with us, reach out to us anytime. You can also take a look at our Planning Checklist, which highlights all of the documents and paperwork needed to finalize your wishes. And our Online Planning Form makes the process easier than ever.

We’re here to walk alongside families during the good times and the tough times, just as any good neighbor would.