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Thinking ahead social media accounts when you die

Posted April 15, 2016 by Cindy Rodeman

In the past few years, social media has become a major factor in our everyday lives. We post our thoughts and photos of big moments and some not so big moments for our family, friends and the world to view. But have you thought about what happens to your account when you die? Is your Facebook account how you want others to remember you?

Last year, a very good friend of mine, Beth, passed after a long terrible illness. During the months up until her death, she would update her status on Facebook. Pictures of her were posted that showed her sudden change in appearance and how sick she truly was for all to see. Knowing her and how particular she was of her appearance, I don’t know that she would have wanted those pictures to be how others remembered her years from now. It was almost eerie when someone after her untimely death updated her status.

Looking into this situation, I found most social media sites have an option to memorialize the account or it can be archived.

Facebook requires someone to notify them that the account member has died. It then will set up a user’s profile as a memorial. After that, no one can log into the account or add new friends. Depending on the privacy settings, friends may be able to post to the timeline or send private messages. The content previously shared remains on Facebook, but the account will not appear in “People You May Know.”

Twitter requires a request to either delete the account or archive it on Digital Beyond. When the account is archived it will no longer be able to be tweeted from, but all past tweets will be viewable to the public.

Google takes a more active approach by allowing account owners to grant access to multiple users once that account has been inactive for a pre-determined number of months. The account owner can grant different people access to Google+, Gmail and YouTube and can create the email that that person will receive once access has been granted.

If you are researching another social network, the company policies will give you instructions on how to memorialize user profiles or you can contact support directly.

Social media accounts are just one of many things that should be addressed when discussing end-of-life care.

Tomorrow (April 16) is National Healthcare Decision Day, which exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. One resource is The Conversation Project, a public engagement campaign advocating “kitchen table” conversations with family and friends about wishes for end-of-life care. On the website you’ll find a toolkit with important questions to consider and a checklist to follow.

Cindy Rodeman
Director of Business Development
Summa at Home™


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