As we have mentioned previously, a post-mortem protocol for social media accounts may not be straightforward on all platforms. Each platform has their own protocol, or lack thereof, and it is a tricky road to navigate. This is a brief guide to understanding how each platform manages accounts of the deceased.
An account owner can assign a Legacy Contact to manage their account after death. The Legacy Contact can control the Facebook account or close a memorialised account. An account can be memorialised by a close family or friend by presenting proof of death like, death certificate or obituary. A Legacy Contact has the ability to manage tribute posts on your profile, which includes deciding who can post and who can see posts, deleting posts, and removing tags. In the case that a Legacy Contact is not assigned, in order to deactivate the account, you need to provide documentation to confirm you're an immediate family member or executor of the account holder. The fastest way for Facebook to process your request is to provide a scan or photo of the account holder’s death certificate or you can also provide one of the following as proof of authority: a power of attorney, birth certificate, last will and testament, or estate letter and one of the following as proof of the deceased: obituary or memorial card.
Instagram offers two options for the account of the deceased or incapacitated, memorialize the account or deactivate it.
To memorialize an account, you must submit a request and provide proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article, to memorialize an account. Instagram specifically details that they will prevent references to memorialized accounts from appearing on Instagram in ways that may be upsetting to the person's friends and family, and they also take measures to protect the privacy of the deceased person by securing the account. This includes preventing anyone from logging into the account. They will not provide login information to anyone.
To deactivate the account, verified immediate family members may submit a request and submit proof of death, like the deceased person's birth certificate, death certificate, or proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate.
In the event of a death, Twitter will work with a person authorized to act on behalf of the estate, or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated. After submitting a request, Twitter will email the fiduciary with instructions for providing more details, including information about the deceased, a copy of your ID, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate. This is a necessary step to prevent false and/or unauthorized reports.
In the event of an incapacitated user, Twitter will work with a person authorized to act on the behalf of the user to have an account deactivated. After submitting a request, Twitter will email the authorized individual with instructions for providing more details, including information about the user, a copy of your ID, a copy of the account holder’s ID, and a copy of a Power of Attorney authorizing you to act on the account holder’s behalf. This is a necessary step to prevent false and/or unauthorized reports.
It appears there is no specific route to handle a YouTube account, due to its affiliation and ownership by Google. The YouTube account is connected with the Google account itself and the actions you take on the account as a whole will affect the other affiliated accounts.
If you’d like to make plans for your account, Google offers an Inactive Account Manager. It is a means for users to share parts of their account data or notify someone if they’ve been inactive for a certain period of time. Google detects the last time your Google accounts and applications were used and in the event that the account has been inactive for a prolonged period of time, set by you, a notification will be sent to your trusted contact of choice. You must provide the phone number of your trusted contact as a means of verification so, only your appointed contact will be able to access your data. If you choose to only notify your contacts of your inactive account, they'll receive an email with a subject line and content that you composed during setup. Google will add a footer to that email, explaining that you've instructed Google to send an email on your behalf after you've stopped using your account. If you choose to share data with your trusted contact, the email will additionally contain a list of the data you have chosen to share with them and a link they can follow to download the data. Keep in mind that deleting your Google Account will affect all products associated with that account.
In the event the user did not set up an Inactive Account Notification, you must submit a request with Google that will be carefully reviewed before acted on, to protect the privacy of the user. Additionally, they will not provide any login information from the account.
If you have the authority to act on behalf of a deceased member, you can request to memorialize or close the account. If the account is closed, it can take up to 21 days to completely delete the data from LinkedIn’s system.
If you aren’t authorized to act on behalf of a deceased member, you can report them as deceased. Reporting a deceased member will result in the account being hidden. Once an account is hidden, the profile is no longer searchable or visible on LinkedIn.
In order to submit the request, you will need the following information:
Member's full name
LinkedIn profile link/URL
Member's email address
Date of their passing
Link to an obituary
For requests to memorialize or close the account, will still need a copy of the member’s death certificate and one of the following legal documents to show you have the authority to act on behalf of the deceased member:
Letters of Administration
Letters of Testamentary
Letters of Representation
Other court order appointing the requestor as an authorized representative for the deceased member’s estate
While the social media platform is still quite popular, without a plan for your executor to enact after your death, your Snapchat account will probably continue to exist for an unknown period of time before Snapchat will delete it. Snapchat is not forthcoming about what happens to the accounts of deceased users.
Despite being currently one of the most popular social media platforms, TikTok has no existing features for requesting permanent deletion by family members or representatives of their estate. Currently, only the original creator or someone with access to their login details can request permanent deletion or manage the account after a person has passed.