HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DIGITAL ACCOUNTS AFTER YOUR DEATH PART—2
If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.
Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.
Last week, in part one of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook and Google have in place to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part two, we’ll continue our discussion, covering how Instagram, Twitter, and Apple’s collection of online platforms handle your accounts once you log off for the final time.
Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the photo and video-sharing social media platform’s processes for handling your account after your death are similar—but not entirely the same—as Facebook’s. As a reminder, Facebook allows you to name a legacy contact to handle your death, and Instagram gives you two options for managing your account after death: You can either have your account memorialized, or you can have it deleted.
However, it’s your family—not you—that has the final say. This makes it all the more important that your loved ones are well-aware of your wishes for how you’d like this digital asset managed when you die.
In order to have your account memorialized, Instagram requires a family member or friend to submit a special request form, along with proof of your death, such as your obituary or death certificate. Once your account is memorialized, the word "Remembering" appears next to your profile name, and your account will basically be frozen, appearing exactly as you left it before your death.
All posts shared on your memorialized Instagram account will be preserved and shared with the same audience they were before your death. No one can log into your memorialized account, make changes to your posts, profile information, or settings. Additionally, your memorialized account will no longer appear in public Instagram forums, such as its Explore page.
Alternatively, Instagram allows your account to be permanently deleted after your death. According to Instagram's policy, only family members can have your account deleted, and this requires a bit more effort than memorialization.
To have your Instagram account permanently erased from cyberspace, your loved ones must not only submit a special form, but they must also supply your birth certificate, proof of death, as well as proof that they are your lawful representative under local law, the latter of which can take the form of a power of attorney document, a will, or an estate letter.
Twitter’s policies regarding the management of your account after death are fairly simple. In fact, the company only gives you one option: the deactivation of your account. Llike Instagram, Twitter leaves the decision as to what happens to your account after your death up to your family. Twitter’s Help Center offers a page with the specific details about deactivating a deceased person’s account.
If your family has your login and password information when you die, it’s fairly easy. Whoever has your login and password (plus 2fa access, if you have 2fa turned on) can login to your account on their own, and select the “deactivate my account” option. From there, the account will be deleted after 30 days of inactivity. That said, the account can be reactivated, simply by someone logging back into your account before 30 days expires.
If your family doesn’t have your login information, Twitter offers an alternate option for your account’s deactivation. However, Twitter notes that this option is only available to verified family members and estate executors.
The process starts by having a family member or your executor fill out a special form requesting the removal of your account. Following the request, Twitter will email instructions asking the person for additional details, including information about your death, a copy of their ID, and a copy of your death certificate.
From there, Twitter will review each request individually, but as long as the proper information is provided, Twitter notes that the vast majority of these requests are granted. Keep in mind that such requests will result in the account’s permanent deletion, so make sure your loved ones carefully consider their decision, since once deleted, the process cannot be reversed.