The thought of having a loved one go through your internet search history or emails once you pass could be scary to some. Some sites like Yahoo or Instagram have clauses in their terms of service stating that they have the ability to delete accounts once a person has died. However not all sites are the same, and some require a living person to request that the account be deleted. Having a will written out listing what you want to do with your social media accounts is key if you want to keep your account safe after death.
How can I make sure my social media accounts are gone?
Getting in contact with an attorney who could draw up your will should be the first course of action. If a person decides with their attorney that they want their accounts fully deleted and closed after they die, they may write that down in the will. If the person decides that their spouse would gain control of the media accounts, then that would be listed in the will. It’s also important to note that each site has different clauses for when one of their users become deceased. For example, Hotmail will delete and scrub all emails and information on a person if their account is inactive for 12 months, or if they’re notified of the user’s death. But on sites like Facebook, they have the ability to completely deleting the deceased user’s account or to add ‘In memoriam’ to their profile. This would not allow anyone to sign in, tag, mention, or post to their account.
A person may decide to have their spouse have complete control over their accounts if they choose to do so. If this is the route you choose, it’s important to have your account information and passwords written down so that your trustee may access the account. However, if this is not a possibility, the trustee may go to the site and ask them for the information. Some sites don’t allow for another person to access an account- no matter what. On the other hand, sites that do offer this service require proof of death to be able to give account information.
How can I transfer all of my accounts to my spouse?
The process of transferring over accounts and information to other people is not simple. Businesses like Instagram and Facebook are built with privacy in mind, so many precautions are taken to ensure that a person can’t gain access to someone else’s account. Sites like these have had issues in the past where people have pretended to be the spouse of a deceased person, and have tried to gain access through their accounts. To prevent this, companies require letters from the deceased’s attorneys or proof of death. Once the company is able to verify the authenticity, the account information would be released. One company, however, does not offer any type of account information. If the deceased person had a Snapchat account they would want their trustee to have, Snapchat wouldn’t allow that. Snapchat’s terms of service state once a user becomes deceased, the only option they have is to complete close and delete the account.
What if I don’t have a written will for my social media accounts?
If a person doesn’t state what they want to happen with their social media accounts after they become deceased, their trustee’s have a few options. The trustee may be able to go to sites like Facebook and request full copies of your data, likewise with Instagram and even Google. They may be able to have your accounts shut down completely, or have them leave it up. This is all dependent on the trustee and on the site’s terms of service.