What Happens To My Online Life When I Die?

Social media plays a large role in many lives so it is important to consider what happens to our accounts after we have died.

Below are three different ways that our social media accounts can be dealt with after we have passed.

  • Our accounts can be memorialised
  • Our accounts can be deleted
  • Our accounts can remain open

In terms of legal rights, there can be some ambiguity about what content you own on your social media accounts, and what is owned by the service provider.

Before you decide what you want to happen to your accounts when you have passed away, it is worth checking the service providers’ terms and conditions to see what you can do.

Memorialising your accounts

Some social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, allow your accounts to be memorialised after the death of the account holder. This means that your profile will still stay open, but it cannot be changed, and it will be clear that you have passed away.

Memorialised accounts can be a comfort for loved ones. They will still be able to look through your accounts and post messages and comments, but your profiles will be made more private so only the people who knew you can find them.

To memorialise your social media accounts, the executor(s) of your Will or a family member will have to contact the platforms to notify the service providers of your passing, and request that your accounts be memorialised.

Some platforms allow you to choose a person who will be in charge of looking after your memorialised accounts.

Facebook, for example, allows you to nominate a ‘legacy contact’ who oversees your profile.

Deleting your accounts

You may wish for your social media accounts to be permanently deleted if you cannot memorialise them.

Some social media platforms automatically deactivate your accounts after an extended period of inactivity. An example of a platform with this policy is Twitter, which automatically deactivates accounts that have been inactive for 6 months.

A family member or your executor(s) will have to contact the service providers to delete your accounts. They will need to provide proof that you have passed away, as well as other required documents, for instance your Will, or the ID of the person(s) applying to delete your accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts can all be deleted in this way.

Keeping your accounts open

For social media accounts that are not automatically deactivated after a period of inactivity, you may choose to keep these accounts open and untouched. This means that your accounts will look exactly how they did before you passed away.

Remember that keeping your accounts open does pose a risk of your accounts being hacked. This could be distressing to your loved ones. It may be a good idea to download and store any photos or messages that you think your loved ones would like to keep so that they are protected.

It is a good idea to discuss these options with your loved ones so that they are aware of your wishes.

Record your wishes for social media accounts when making your will

You could also make a note of your wishes to store safely with your Will. This will enable your loved ones to carry out your exact wishes in relation to your social media accounts.

During April 2022, you have the opportunity to make your will with us for free. In return for the service, please consider making a voluntary donation to Ashgate Hospice.

More information about this service can be found at the link below.

Ashgate Hospice Free Wills Month