The Bereaved need access to Social Media Accounts
Have you ever thought about what will happen to your social media and other online accounts when you die? Well, maybe you do not spend a lot of time thinking about such things, but the reality is: someday you will die, and you will obviously not be able to access those accounts. However, your content and the things you did in these networks, such as photos and posts, will remain immortalised on the internet. If you have money in your PayPal account, how will anyone be able to access it?
When I meet with clients I always mention the importance of their digital legacy and why they should remember their social media accounts and how they want them managed after they are gone. Even though I recommend this, it does not mean that it is often done. There are some instances where the deceased does not leave instructions. If you don’t, what happens to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, blogs, and other social network platforms? What should you do if your loved one dies and their account is still up and active?
According to recent research, Facebook has about 1.3 billion users. Out of the number 30 million accounts belong to people who are dead. That is quite a large number, isn’t it? The findings further reveal that about 8,000 Facebook users worldwide die daily, yet most of their accounts still remain active. Think about it – if you use social media, then you must know at least one person who is deceased, but you can still access their social network information. I went through my Facebook friends and have 2 people listed who died more than 3 years ago.
These social media accounts always have very important details of a person’s life – how they lived their life, their favourite things, their struggles, photos of themselves and those of people close to them. You can also see the conversations that they had on those platforms, and basically everything they shared publicly on these networks. It is not only social media. What about your online Banking, eBay or Amazon accounts. You may also want your email account shut down. It is not until we stop and think that we realise how much of our life is spent online.
For now, the rule is that if you die, then there must be proof of death before your relatives or people close to you can access your passwords and other personal information. The proof is usually in form of a death certificate. This might be emotionally draining for your family and friends; trying to get your details in order for them to access the account. However, it may be a greater emotional burden for them to see your account every single day.
Imagine how difficult it is for them when your birthday is coming up, and Facebook reminds them of your ‘upcoming birthday’ and tells them to go and wish you a happy birthday. Or when something you shared years back pops up in their notification just when they were beginning to finally come to terms with the loss.
That is why there is a suggestion that social network companies such as twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms to come up with a way to ensure that family members can access the accounts of those who have died. This way, they can decide to deactivate it, or completely shut it down.
Until they do, you can take some of the stress away and leave them instructions.