What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts at Your Death?

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According to Statista, more than 295 million people in the United States use social media.[1] If you are an avid social media user, have you considered what will happen to your accounts when you die? If you have spent time creating, uploading, and sharing content, it is important to take a look now at what will happen after you pass away so you can determine your content’s future.

What happens to your Facebook social media account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

According to Facebook’s Help Center, they will memorialize your account if a loved one informs them of your passing.[2] Although your account will be memorialized, no changes will be made to it without a legacy contact. However, the content you previously shared will remain and will continue to be viewable by those you originally shared it with. (Yes, that's Jana McCreary on the right -- probably about 4 months old.)

What You Can Do

If you want your account to continue to be managed, you will need to designate someone as a legacy contact. Your designee “can accept friend requests on behalf of a memorialized account, pin a tribute post to the profile and change the profile picture and cover photo.”[3]

You also have the option to have your account permanently deleted when you die. As a result, everything associated with the account, including messages, photos, comments, etc., will also be permanently deleted.

Facebook Pages

If you have a Facebook page for your social media endeavor, Facebook states that “[p]ages with a sole admin whose account was memorialized will be removed from Facebook if we receive a valid memorialization request.”[4]Therefore, if you want your page to continue, you should plan ahead.

What happens to your Instagram account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

If, upon your passing, Instagram receives a valid request, they will memorialize your account.[5] Posts you shared will stay on your account and will still be visible to those you originally shared the content with.

As an alternative, an immediate family member can request that your account be removed from Instagram. To remove an account, Instagram requires proof that the requesting person is an immediate family member.

Instagram has no way for you to designate someone to manage your account at your death.

What happens to your Pinterest account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

After you pass away, a family member can contact Pinterest via their website to inform them of your passing.[6] Upon receiving notice of your death, Pinterest will deactivate your account, and it will no longer be accessible by anyone.

Pinterest currently has no way for you to designate someone to manage the account after your passing.

What happens to your Snapchat account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

A family member can contact Snapchat, provide them with a copy of your death certificate, and have the account deleted.[7]

Snapchat does not allow you to designate someone to continue the account after you have passed.

What happens to your Twitter account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

The person authorized to act on behalf of your estate or a verified immediate family member can contact Twitter and request that your account be deactivated.[8] Twitter will ask for supporting documentation to avoid false or unauthorized reports.

On the other hand, if the account is inactive for six months or longer (i.e., no one has logged in during that period), Twitter may permanently remove the account “due to prolonged inactivity.”[9]

What happens to your YouTube account after you die?

If You Do Nothing

Because of YouTube’s affiliation with Google, an immediate family member or representative of your estate can contact Google to close the account and submit a request for funds from your account.[10]

What You Can Do

You can control access to your YouTube account using Google’s Inactive Account Manager,[11] which allows you to designate a person to be contacted if your account has been inactive for a specified period of time. If you have decided to grant the designee access to any of your accounts, they will also be informed of the data you have chosen to share with them. The message will also include a link they can use to download the information.

social media iconsNext Steps to Plan for Your Social Media

Because the process for each account is different, it is important that your loved ones know what social media accounts you have and what your wishes are for their future after you have passed. By properly laying out your wishes in your estate plan, you can provide guidance to your loved ones and reassurance that your legacy will live on. If you would like to discuss next steps for protecting you, your accounts, and your loved ones.

social media memorialize

(Yes, that's a four-month-old Jana McCreary on the right.)

[1] Number of social network users in the United States from 2017 to 2026, Statista (July 2021), https://www.statista.com/statistics/278409/number-of-social-network-users-in-the-united-states/.

[2] What will happen to my Facebook account if I pass away?, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/help/103897939701143 (last visited Nov. 17, 2021).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] How do I report a deceased person’s account on Instagram?, Instagram, https://www.facebook.com/help/instagram/264154560391256/?helpref=related (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[6] Deactivate or close your account, Pinterest, https://help.pinterest.com/en/article/deactivate-or-close-your-account (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[7] Contact Us, Snapchat Support, https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/i-need-help?start=5640758388326400 (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[8] How to contact Twitter about a deceased family member’s account, Twitter, https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-family-members-account (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[9] Inactive account policy, Twitter, https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/inactive-twitter-accounts (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[10] Submit a request regarding a deceased user’s account, Google Account Help, https://support.google.com/accounts/troubleshooter/6357590?hl=en (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

[11] About Inactive Account Manager, Google Account Help, https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036546?hl=en&ref_topic=3382254 (last visited Nov. 18, 2021).

Categories: Estate Planning