Death in the age of social media is a strange phenomenon. Long after people pass away, their social media accounts stay online, which can be both touching and eerie. In case you’d like to prepare, here’s what you can and can’t do with your parents’ social media accounts after they pass away.
Facebook is the only social media company that allows users to decide what will happen to their accounts after they die. By going to “memorialization settings,” your parent can choose from two options: they can have their account deleted after death, or they can assign a “legacy contact” to take over. This person can address friend requests, remove tags, and update profile and cover photos. If no settings are chosen, and Facebook becomes aware of a person’s death, they will turn the page into a memorial. A memorialized profile looks different, with a Tributes section, and it doesn’t show up in “People You May Know” lists anymore.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, but they only offer one option: memorializing the account. A memorialized Instagram page doesn’t look any different from an active one, but it becomes inactive and it can’t be altered in any way. You can’t take down posts or change the page’s privacy settings. Otherwise, you can contact Instagram to have the page removed altogether.
Lastly, there’s Twitter. Twitter doesn’t offer any memorialization options, nor does it let anyone else log in as the deceased. There’s only one choice, which is to ask for the account to be taken down altogether. If possible, you can ask your parent what they want to happen to their Twitter in case of death; they can always give you their log-in information directly, just in case.
To best prepare for mortality, it actually is pretty important that you leave some log of all your passwords behind – that way whoever is dealing with the estate can get into everything. Check out this article for more steps you might want to take, for your parents or yourself.