By the end of this century, the number of dead people on the popular social media network, Facebook, is expected to outnumber living members — turning it into the world's biggest 'virtual graveyard'.
Due to the strong interest in social media and our 'online life', the trend of people looking to leave farewell messages to their loved ones via various social networks is also becoming more common. Therefore it's hardly surprising that more people are thinking about what happens to their social media accounts when they die.
A YouGov survey, published in early November 2018, revealed that 26% of people would like the content of their social media accounts to pass to their loved ones once they have died. Additionally, the survey results showed that 67% of respondents wanted their social media accounts taken offline after their death and only 7% wanted them to remain online.
Each social network has different rules regarding what happens to your account when you die. Facebook and Instagram will memorialise a person's page once the death has been reported or they will remove the account if an immediate family member makes a request. Facebook has also added settings which allow you to plan for what happens to your account after you die. You can set a legacy contact to manage aspects of your page once it's been
memorialised. Twitter will delete any account if there is no activity or logins for six months. Google's Inactive Account Manager allows you to make plans for what happens to your account after you die. You can choose to grant a loved one access to your information or request that your account is automatically deleted.
Online assets are being viewed as an increasingly important subject and some people are even including clauses about them in their Wills. It is not clear what happens to data collected during a lifetime after someone passes away, which could potentially cause upset to family members if there is any uncertainty. It is important to discuss your online accounts with your Executor so that they can handle your digital legacy as per your wishes.
6 June 2019
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