Preparing Your Social Network for the Afterlife

Facebook is giving users more options for what happens with their accounts after death by offering more than the "memorial" feature that's been available for some time. As of now, U.S. Facebook subscribers can assign a legacy contact who has basic control over your account once you're gone, or you can choose to have your account deleted completely. With Facebook taking a more proactive approach to what happens after our final posts, The Mac Observer took a look at some other social networks to see how they compare.

Each social network handles your post-death data differentlyEach social network handles your post-death data differently


Facebook's new policy still offers the memorial page option, but now includes a way for subscribers to assign someone as a caretaker for their account after they're gone. Once Facebook has received notice of your death, your legacy contact can change your profile photo, accept friend requests, and pin announcements to your timeline. They won't be able to view private messages, but they can download your posts, photos, and other account information if you enable that option.

You can also set your account to permanently delete after your death. The memorial option essentially locks your account so it remains as a sort of snapshot in time of your life.

Facebook has information for family and friends who want to deal with an account after your death, too, if you didn't make arrangements before passing.


Twitter users who move on to the big social network in the sky can't assign anyone as a legacy account manager, although the company does have a procedure for family and friends to request account deactivation.

Twitter will also consider removing specific photos and video from your account if the request comes from immediate family members or authorized individuals. Media eligible for removal is limited to "from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death." Those requests can be denied based on "public interest factors such as the newsworthiness of the content."

The fact that Twitter has a procedure for dealing with our accounts after we die is nice, but their policy regarding the removal of inappropriate photos and videos feels down right creepy.


Since LinkedIn's primary focus is on connecting people for jobs and business deals, it doesn't make much sense for someone to maintain your account once you're gone. To that end LinkedIn's policy lets those left behind request account deactivation on your behalf.

To deactivate someone's account after death, you'll need to provide specific information about the person such as their name, your relationship to them, a link to their obituary, and where they last worked.


Like Facebook, Google lets you decide what happens with your account before you actually pass. That's handled through the Inactive Account Manager feature in your Google account settings.

Google lets you set an auto-delete time that kicks in after three, six, nine, or 12 months of inactivity. You can also choose trusted contacts to receive data from +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube—you set which services forward information to them, so it isn't an all-or-nothing scenario.


Pinterest lets family members deactivate accounts for deceased relative, and their policy makes it very clear personal or login information won't be shared with anyone. To request account deactivation on someone's behalf, you'll need to prove your relationship to that person, show proof of their passing, note their full name and account email address, and include the URL for their Pinterest account.

Even though it may feel a little grim, it's better to plan now for what happens with your social networking accounts instead of leaving that for your friends and family after you're gone. Facebook and Google have the most proactive policies. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have procedures in place, too, but the heavy work will be on the shoulders of the people you leave behind. For those sites, making sure someone else knows what you want done—and has the ability to follow through—is a good plan.