Although a flurry of social media activity is happening around the globe daily, one important question may still not be answered for most users.
What happens to my social media when I’m gone?
With just a few minutes of preparation, you can ensure that your family or key loved ones have access to your photos, videos and social media “legacy” when you pass away.
Each social media outlet has their own unique guidelines for setting up beneficiaries for your content, so be sure to address each one individually.
Google offers an “Inactive Account Manager” that can be found in its “Account Settings” page. This useful function allows you to have your data deleted after 3,6, 9 or 12 months of inactivity or you can select different people to receive content from different Google services.
For example, you can send your Gmail to one person and your Picasa Web Albums to someone else. And they also have a useful function set up to guard against hacking. They will warn you with a text message and email (to your secondary email address) before their systems take any action.
If you are inactive for the chosen predetermined amount of time, and you do not stop the activation after a text/email alert, your appointed Account Manager will be sent access to a link to download your information along with a customized email that you provide at setup.
Facebook has a “Legacy Contact” tool found in "Settings" then “General Account Settings” then "Manage Account." This useful tool allows you to designate someone (a Facebook account holder) to “memorialize” your account in 3 ways.
They can write a pinned post for your profile to share a final message on your behalf, or provide information about a funeral or memorial service.
They can respond to new friend requests
They can update your profile picture and cover photo.
They can request the removal of your account.
Although your Legacy Contact has limited access to your account, you still need to activate the option for them to be able to download a copy of what you've shared on Facebook. They legacy contact cannot log into your account directly, they can't read your messages, remove or change past photos or things posted to your Timeline and they cannot remove any of your friends, make new friend requests or add a new legacy contact.
After you contact Twitter, they will work with the person holding Power of Attorney to have the account deactivated when a Death Certificate is provided, but they will not provide the person holding POA with access to the actual account.
LinkedIn has a form in their Help section that allows you to gather the needed information (the members name, profile URL, email address, date of passing, link to obituary, company they most recently worked at ,etc.) and submit to have a profile deleted.
Instagram also offers the possibility to “memorialize” or “delete” an account. If you know of an account on Instagram that belongs to someone who’s passed away, you can request that it be removed.
Proof of death must be submitted, such as a link to an obituary or news article to memorialize the account. Verified immediate family members may request the removal of an account altogether by providing the deceased person’s birth certificate, death certificate and proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of that person and/or their estate.
The best way to ensure that someone has access to your personal social media data is to modify your Power of Attorney to “specifically give access to digital assets” and to explicitly state that the person with Power of Attorney rights has the ability to “access, delete, or distribute” those assets.
You can also ensure that someone you trust has the ability to retrieve all of your passwords, to keep access simple and stress-free when something unexpected happens.
Shanna Forrestall is a social media and marketing consultant with Forrestall Consulting. Get in touch for help with your social media and marketing plan.