Maybe some of us haven’t even really given deep thought to what will happen with our will, let alone social media accounts. But the law doesn’t allow your loved ones to edit your profile. So, it is something we should actually pay attention to these days.
The options are:
- Allow the accounts to exists
- Delete them
- Allow them to exist temporarily,
- Have a last personal update posted by a surviving relative
What would you do?
The easiest way would be to think they will figure it out when I’m gone. Hoewver, online accounts are not transferable. Still, you can leave your login details for your loved ones, but officially they are not allowed to log in or change anything. Because the accounts are not automatically inherited by your heir they are not authorized to change anything. A surviving relative may not even delete your account. If you want your account to be deleted, you must already indicate this on social media platforms beforehand. A little bit cumbersome…
Lucienne van der Geld, professor of inheritance law at Radboud University says: “If you die, all digital data must be able to pass on to the heir, just like your physical property.” To make accounts transferable, only a law needs to be amended. And not only in the Netherlands, but also in a European context. That can take while, if it will happen at all.
Let’s take Facebook as an example. Every once in a while we all receive a notification of a reminder / highlight. “Congratulations on your friendship anniversary! You have been Facebook friends with … for 5 years now. ” No one would like to receive messages from someone who passed away, right? Or could it also be a beautiful memory and reminder?
Facebook gives us two options. The first one is to have your account converted by a designated person into a memorial page. The biggest difference between your current account and a memorial page is that the words “in memorial of” are added to your profile. Moreover, your profile will no longer be used for birthday reminders and friend suggestions.
The second option is to have your account deleted on Facebook. This means they need to know that you died, for this you can add a legacy contact.
Would you like your Facebook account to exist as a memorial page? Then you can indicate via Facebook which person can convert your account to this status. They will be authorized to:
- Determine who can post and see messages.
- Determine who can delete messages and tags
- Respond to new friend requests
- Adjust your profile photo and cover photo
- Request removal of your account
This person will not be able to:
- Post new updates from your name
- Authorize posts that you made before passing
- Read your chat messages
If you give your contact permission to enter your “data archive” (this is a separate option again), this person can download a copy of what you have shared on Facebook. This could be messages, photos, videos and profile information (not your chat messages).
Are you already sure you want to have your Facebook account deleted? You can arrange that here. You scroll down and click on “Request to delete your account after you die.” If you then click on “Delete after death”, no one can give your profile a memorial status. As soon as Facebook is notified of your death, they will delete your account and everything that goes with it.
Instagram has the same two options as Facebook: a memorial page or delete your account. If you choose a memorial page, Instagram will give your profile a memorial status after your death. This status does not change your current profile. All content therefore remains visible to everyone (who follows you) and it is therefore not immediately clear that this is a memorial page.
Do you want to have your account deleted after your death? Then you can use this form. This form must also be completed by a surviving relative. The big difference with Facebook is that you cannot arrange this in advance. The only thing you can do now is to let your next of kin know what your wishes are for this. This also applies to LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you want to make it easy for your relatives and loved ones or prevent things from going lost (because no one can get in), it is advisable not only to think about this, but also to actually take action.