Although there are still some who will avoid talking about death, people are beginning to accept the inevitable and face it positively and pre-plan with changing times. However in modern society, when one dies, what remains is not just a house or bank deposits but more than that. There are also bits and pieces of your presence on the internet – including information posted on social media accounts, photos, check-in locations and other data which will become your “digital legacy” – all of which will remain on the internet after your demise.
Hence, have you ever thought about how these accounts should be handled if the user dies now that social media is so common? It turns out that different social media sites have their own set of policies relating to this matter!
In modern times, whether you’re a school-going teenager or a grandmother, almost everyone owns a Facebook account. Whether it is to share pictures, express their feelings, or connect with friends, Facebook is an indispensable platform to link people.
Upon the demise of a user, Facebook has two approaches of handling the account:
1. Designate a legacy contact to manage your memorial account:
Once Facebook learns of a user’s death, it will convert the account into a memorial account and provide the legacy contact with a specific level of administrative privileges.
The word “Remembering” will be added next to the name of the memorial account’s profile. Legacy contacts can change the profile picture and cover photo for the memorial account, respond to friend invitations and download copies of shared content. However, Facebook also specifies that no one can log into your account after your death including legacy contacts, and that they cannot change any of your posts or photos that you have posted during your lifetime, nor delete your friends.
You can find the option to set a memorial account legacy contact at “Settings & privacy” > “Settings” > “Memorialisation settings”
2. Permanently delete your account from Facebook:
If you want to leave gracefully, you can also request Facebook to delete (deactivate) your account after your death. In this manner, not only will anyone be unable to log in, but your photos, posts and others will also disappear, which means your loved ones and friends will not be able to remember you through Facebook.
Instagram, which features photo sharing, is the most popular social media platform among young people nowadays. The handling of a user’s account after death is basically the same as that of Facebook. When a valid request (obituary or news report) is received, the account will be converted to a memorial account and no login information will be provided. Alternatively, you can also request for your account to be deleted.
As early as 2012, Gmail surpassed Hotmail to become the most widely used e-mail in the world, and has more than 1 billion users worldwide. Google Drive is a very popular free online storage service as well with more than 1 billion users and storing over 2 trillion files.
For deceased user accounts, Google has a tool called “inactive account manager”. Users can use this feature to set up a series of settings in advance to determine who will be contacted and who will have access to the account when it is inactive.
When Google determines that an account has been inactive for more than a specific period of time through various indicators such as login activity and Android device check-in, the account will be deactivated based on the previous settings. Simply put, Google will notify the contact with a pre-written letter informing them of the account information you’ve shared with them and providing them with the relevant download link.