A family member died recently. On his birthday after his death, Facebook sent out 1832 notifications to all of his friends reminding them of his birthday. The family was shocked and upset to find that many of his “friends” wished him “Happy Birthday”, not knowing that he was no longer alive.
So what will happen to your Facebook account when you’re gone?
What are your options?
Facebook provides you with two options that you can set now, to determine what happens to your account on your death. You can opt to either:
To make this choice, you can go to Facebook settings and find “Memorialisation Settings” (the location of this will vary depending on your device) and choose your preferred setting.
Deleting your account
If you choose for your account to be deleted after you die, one of your friends or family members will still need to alert Facebook that you have died. They can do that by following the process under “Special Request for Medically Incapacitated or Deceased Person’s Account”. They will need to produce a death certificate and the account will then be deleted, permanently removing all messages, photos, posts, comments, reactions and information in it.
If you choose to have your account memorialised after you die, you need to select a legacy contact now. Your legacy contact can manage your account after you die, including pinning tribute posts, sharing photos, accepting friend requests, changing profile pictures, and deciding who sees the tribute posts on your account. When you select this option you will be prompted to select the legacy contact and Facebook will notify that person once you choose them.
What if you die and have not chosen these settings?
If you do not select one of the above options, the executors/trustees of your estate can apply to Facebook to either remove or memorialise your account. They need to provide evidence of their legal right to make this decision and provide proof of your dates of birth and death.
Another option available is to put a clause in your will, whereby you leave all your login information for your online accounts to a trusted person. That person may then shut down your accounts for you or fulfil any other requests you have conveyed to them.
While sorting social media accounts after death is not something many of us wish to consider, doing so may avoid the distress caused for family members finding their Facebook feed filling up with messages such as birthday wishes for you after you’ve died. So the next time you scroll through Facebook, take a few minutes to think about how you would like your account to be dealt with after you are gone.