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What happens to your social media accounts when you die?

Social media plays a significant role in our lives. We can think of our accounts as virtual storybooks of experiences and accomplishments.

We’re all so engrossed in our digital lives that even with Facebook’s unbelievable number of missteps over the years, people can’t seem to quit using the site. Tap or click to learn more about Facebook’s data leak. But have you ever wondered what happens to your social media accounts after you’ve passed away?

Of course, this is a morbid thought nobody really wants to think about, but it does raise an interesting question about how your online legacy will proceed once you’re no longer around to add to it.

Thankfully, some of the biggest social media platforms allow you to plan far ahead and have your accounts either preserved or deleted. Consider taking advantage of these features now, before it’s too late.

What is the Facebook Legacy feature?

Facebook offers a way for you to designate a legacy contact. This person can manage your social media account if you pass away. They can do things like write a pinned post for your profile as a farewell message or as a way to let your friends know the details of a memorial service.

Your designated person can also respond to friend requests, update your profile and cover photos, decide who can see your feed and who can post tributes, among other things. But There are limits. He or she won’t be able to read your messages, log into your account or delete friends.

Related: Facebook settings you need to change right now

Here’s how to set up your Legacy Contact: Go to your general account Settings and choose Memorialization Settings. Click Edit and you can choose a legacy contact. Use the “Choose a friend” box to add your legacy contact.

That person will receive an email explaining how the process works. You might want to check with that friend or family member before you add them to make sure they’re willing to handle the responsibility.

Once you have your legacy contact set, you can find the information in the Memorialization Settings, as shown above. On this page, you can decide whether they can download a copy of what you’ve shared on your feed, including posts, photos, videos and profile information.

Once a year, you will receive a reminder that the person you chose is your legacy contact. If you’re certain your person won’t change, or that you’ll remember to change them if need be, you can click “stop annual reminders” in the Annual Reminder section.

If you’d rather have your account deleted after you pass away, get to the Memorialization Settings page and scroll down. Right above the Close button, there is an option you can click that says, “Request that your account be deleted after you pass away.”

Choosing this option will pop up a window asking you to confirm you want your account deleted after your death. All that needs to be done is someone needs to let Facebook know you’ve died, and your account will be completely deleted.

Memorializing/deleting your Instagram

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, it has similar features and procedures when it comes to memorializing accounts. Like Facebook, your family can request the deletion of your account, or have it memorialized.

However, Instagram doesn’t feature a legacy contact, which means you’ll have to leave detailed instructions in your digital will to either have your account deleted or memorialized.

To memorialize your account, Instagram does require some kind of proof you’ve passed first. They want “a link to an obituary or news article.”

If you’d like the account removed, it requires certified evidence of your passing. Instagram will ask for your birth and death certificates and proof of authority under local law that the person who is attempting to delete your account is a lawful representative of you or your estate.

If you need to delete an Instagram account for someone who is deceased, tap or click here to fill out the report. If you choose to memorialize an account, it can’t be changed or altered in any way. This includes any previous likes, followers, tags, posts and comments.

Twitter is a bit more limited

Twitter recently announced it would be deleting inactive accounts, but the backlash was so great, the company was forced to redact their statement and find a happy medium for its users. Tap or click here for the full backstory.

Thankfully, Twitter announced they will not remove inactive accounts until they create an appropriate method of memorializing those belonging to people who have died.

Twitter has not yet created memorialized or legacy accounts, but they will remove a deceased user’s account if requested by a verified immediate family member who can provide the appropriate details. Tap or click here to learn more about Twitter’s deletion policies.

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