When a person dies… what happens to all the publications, texts, images, videos, sounds… that they have published on their social networks? Who will manage their profiles from that moment on?
A person’s digital legacy must be managed by the relatives of the person who has died, either so that it remains for posterity on the Internet or so that it is deleted forever. If the person, before dying, has designated a “digital heir” on some of the platforms they use, this transition will be easier.
Otherwise, once the loss has occurred, we will have to think about how to manage the deceased person’s entire digital presence, what to do with their social profiles.
How to make a “digital will”
Accessing a person’s social networks or digital profiles without their express consent is not advisable, since it can lead to a crime. Therefore, the most advisable thing is that, while alive, the person designates a digital heir, something like “making a will” of his entire digital assets.
This can be done with the help of a lawyer who is an expert in digital matters, and there are also companies that offer services to manage these procedures. Basically, a document is written, a digital will, which establishes all the passwords on the social networks in which you have a presence and in the digital services in which you are registered.
In this document you can express the person’s wishes regarding what they want to happen to their digital profiles when they die: if they prefer that they remain open as a memorial account, or if they prefer to exercise their “right to be forgotten” and have them closed and deleted upon death.
A “digital heir” can be established to be responsible for managing the published information and your online reputation from now on. But not only that, it also establishes who can have access to all the digital files stored on the computer, on external hard drives and on any other medium. Photographs, videos, etc.
How to delete a deceased person’s social networks
Although there are companies that are responsible for deleting the social networks of a deceased person, it is also a procedure that their family members and heirs can carry out. If they have access to the accounts and have been designated as heirs, they just have to enter the profile and delete the accounts.
If you do not have direct access to the account, it is necessary to contact each of the social networks. The procedure is usually similar in both cases, although it will present certain differences.
Create memorial account on Facebook or delete account
Facebook has an option to create a commemorative account to remember. In it, you can see the desired publications of the deceased and you could even manage the comments that reach the profile.
This task corresponds to the heir of the profile, the so-called “legacy contact.” It is the account owner who must designate it before dying. If he does not do so, no one will be able to manage his publications nor will his account be converted to a memorial account.
To convert the account into a memorial account, it is necessary to send Facebook the death certificate, the name of the deceased and their date of death.
The other option is to communicate the death of the person so that their profile is closed. It is necessary to contact Facebook through this form https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/228813257197480 and justify the relationship with the deceased (for example, with a power of attorney or a birth certificate) and send the death certificate, an obituary or an obituary.
What happens with the Instagram of a deceased
In the event of the death of an Instagram user, the options are the same as on Facebook. If an heir to the profile has been designated during life, a memorial account can be created and all its contents managed.
If this is not the case, it will be necessary to contact Instagram and report the death of the person. It will be necessary to prove your identity and the relationship with the deceased, as well as his death, in the same way as on Facebook.
How to communicate a death to X (Twitter)
To close an account in X you must send a message to [email protected] including the name of the person requesting closure, their email and the relationship they have with the deceased. It will be necessary to indicate their username and a link to an obituary indicating their death or a copy of the death certificate. Contacting Twitter is usually not easy, and often a long time goes by without getting a response.
Through this email address you can also request the company to eliminate some content, such as photographs or videos, that someone could upload about the deceased and that violates their privacy. For example, images of his death.
How to report a death to LinkedIn
On the professional social network owned by Microsoft, family members can also report the death of another user and request the deletion of their account. It is necessary to contact LinkedIn and send the death certificate and prove the relationship with the deceased.
How to report a death to Google
Google allows you to designate a “digital heir” or inactive account administrator. It must be a family member or close person whom, during life, the deceased designated so that he could have access to his entire digital legacy. This is done by contacting Google through its Help Center.
If the contact who would be the heir to the digital information that Google has about the deceased had not been established during his or her lifetime, the family members can request the closure of the accounts, adequately proving the death. It is necessary to send a DNI or Passport to prove identity, documents that reflect the relationship with the deceased and the death certificate.