What happens to social media accounts after death? To spare your loved ones trouble, it’s important to address your digital legacy. Here’s how you can make arrangements for Facebook and other platforms.

Nobody likes to think about their own death. Yet, it’s inevitable. While most people have an idea of what will happen to their money and house after they die, it’s different for online social media accounts – the so-called “digital inheritance.”

There are statistics showing that a Facebook user dies every two minutes. In most cases, it’s up to the relatives to handle the estate, including the digital one. Since most people don’t leave their social media account login information to their loved ones, it’s good to know how different platforms handle the death of a user.

Digital Inheritance: How Are Social Media Providers Informed of a User’s Death?

Without the involvement of relatives, social media providers typically aren’t informed when a user passes away. Therefore, it’s possible that after death, birthday reminders and shared photos continue to appear automatically, or distant friends continue to congratulate the deceased person because they haven’t yet been informed of their death. To avoid confronting your loved ones with such scenarios or burdening them with additional costs for digital estate managers, you can easily and freely make arrangements yourself.

  1. Twitter

On Twitter, it’s only possible to completely delete the account after death. To request such deletion, relatives or an authorized person need a copy of the death certificate and the deceased person’s ID. After verification, the account is deactivated. However, previously published content isn’t deleted. Twitter also doesn’t disclose login data, even if you authorize someone before your death.

  1. Facebook

Facebook not only offers to delete the deceased person’s account but also to memorialize the profile. To do this, Facebook provides a form and other information in the help section. For either deleting the account or memorializing the profile, the social network requires a copy of the death certificate. However, disclosure of login data is excluded.

  1. Instagram

Since Instagram belongs to Facebook, this platform handles the death of a user similarly. However, on Instagram, even non-family members can inform the platform of a user’s death. Proof is required, but it can be a link to an obituary or news article. Once Instagram is informed of the death, the account can be memorialized or deleted, as on Facebook. However, only family and official documents such as death, birth, or succession certificates can request deletion.

While it’s clearly visible on Facebook when an account is memorialized, a deceased user’s Instagram account doesn’t differ from that of a living user. Posts or comments aren’t deleted either. However, Instagram assures its users that it strives to prevent references to the accounts of the deceased from upsetting relatives and friends.

  1. YouTube

The YouTube profile is managed via your own Google account and must therefore be deactivated there. In the account activity settings, it can be decided who will have access to the account after death or whether the profile should be deleted. After a period of inactivity that you’ve set, the trusted person of your choice is contacted. What you write in this message is left to your discretion.

  1. Snapchat

Snapchat only offers the deletion of the user profile in case of death. The social media platform requires a copy of the death certificate for this. If you want a trusted person to be able to access the account, you must provide them with the login information before death.