What happens to your Facebook account after you have gone?
On the world’s biggest and best-known social network, what happens after you’ve gone?
As of March this year, Facebook has reported almost 2.4 billion active users in a world with a population of around 7.7 billion people. Facebook users are probably younger and wealthier than the global average, but with more than 20 million people dying worldwide during 2019 so far, it’s a safe bet that a good number of the deceased are on Facebook.
With this fact in mind, Facebook provide help and advice with managing a deceased person's account. The accounts of users who have passed away are handled in two different ways; either to memorialise the account or delete the account completely. The first step in managing a deceased loved ones account is to contact Facebook and inform them that the individual has passed away. Usually Facebook’s standard approach would be to memorialise the account which allows family and friends to share memories of a person after they have passed away and keeping the account secure by preventing anyone logging into it.
When an account is memorialised, the word ‘Remembering’ is shown next to a person's name on their profile page. Dependant on the privacy settings which the account has, friends and family will be able to freely share their memories on the timeline of the deceased. All of the posts and photos the person had previously shared with people will still be available for those people to read and view. Sensitive to the feelings of loved ones of the deceased, memorialised profiles will not show in Facebook’s ‘People You May Know’, birthday reminders, or other Facebook generated content.
Sensitive details like contact information is removed from memorialised accounts and the privacy settings are changed so that only existing friends on the account can see the memorial profile.
The only individuals who have access to manage a memorialised account are any previously set up legacy contacts. With these permissions they will be able to post a pinned profile message such as final message from the deceased on their behalf or information about their funeral details. A legacy contact can also update the profile picture, cover photo, and accept friend requests for the memorialised page. They can also download a copy of all the posts and pictures shared on the account to prevent them ever being lost and can finally request the removal of the account from Facebook. If a legacy contact is not appointed before you die then your account can still be memorialised but no posts or changes can be made to the account.
Facebook requires verification that requests the relationship to the deceased, as well as a scan or photo of the death certificate in order to prevent live accounts being memorialised. In the event where a death certificate is not available, Facebook will accept a copy of a power of attorney or a Will.
Appointing a legacy contact can be done within the ‘Manage Account’ area of your Facebook ‘Settings’, where you can then add the name of your chosen individual. From there you can message them to let them know they have been appointed a legacy contact, or you can wait until the time is right to tell them.
If you would rather your Facebook profile was closed after you’ve gone, you can also leave instructions to have it deleted within the ‘Manage Account’ area. If there are no instructions left and you have not appointed a legacy contact for your account, your friends and family can request the account is deleted once they confirm their relationship to you and verify the death.
As with everything related to your eventual passing, it pays to plan ahead and leave clear instructions about what should happen once you are gone. In this online age, that includes saying what you want to happen with your social media accounts. With Facebook, the best way to make sure your wishes are met is to appoint a legacy contact to control your account after you have gone.
Find out more about how you can plan ahead for your funeral with Golden Charter. Request a free, no obligation information pack below or call 0800 111 4514.