Most people realize the need to get their financial affairs in order before they die, but how many people think about what’s going to happen to their social media profiles? Do they live on or are those memories lost? When you or a loved one passes away, who can access that information or close an account on behalf of the deceased?
While it’s not surprising that the social media giants have policies for such circumstances, it is certainly not common knowledge amongst users. Here’s a quick guide to the policies of some of the major players.
Facebook adopted a policy of “memorializing” the pages of deceased users. If you pass away, your page won’t disappear – unless you or your loved ones decide that it should. Once memorialized, no one can log into it any further. The page is taken out of Facebook’s general search option, but the wall remains open for tribute postings by Facebook friends. In fact, only friends can see the profile/timeline.1
Memorialization isn’t the only choice available. An account can be taken down if “verified immediate family members” or executors request.
LinkedIn might memorialize your profile if you pass away. In its privacy notice, LinkedIn states: “If we learn that a User is deceased, we may memorialize the User’s account. In these cases we may restrict profile access, remove messaging functionality, and close an account if we receive a formal request from the User’s next of kin or other proper legal request to do so.” 2
Twitter takes a very thorough approach to deactivating accounts of deceased users. Executors or “verified immediate family members” must mail or fax requested documentation to its San Francisco headquarters.3
When a Twitter user dies, no heir, relative, friend or executor can log into the account – no one. Its policy states, “We are unable to provide login information for the account to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased.”3
Your digital assets can be managed after your passing according to YOUR wishes. Websites like Legacy Locker and DataInherit exist to help people safeguard and convey online data to heirs. Sites such as Great Goodbye, Great Respectance and 1,000memories serve as portals for last emails, last videos and posthumous online tributes.
Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women. As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.
1 – www.facebook.com/help/?page=185698814812082 [3/8/12]
2 – www.linkedin.com/static?key=privacy_policy [6/16/11]
3 – support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-a-violation/topics/148-policy-information/articles/87894-how-to-contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-user# [6/16/11]