Facebook is essentially an online journal or diary, documenting moments and saving photos that eventually turn into a lifetime of memories, but what happens to a Facebook account after death?
Right now, Facebook offer two options in the event of a death – you can either delete the account entirely or memorialize it. There are pros and cons to both options, so pick the one that makes sense for you. Bottom line is that it’s important for the protection of your loved ones identity that all social media profiles are managed correctly after death.
Memorialize a Facebook Account
Memorializing a Facebook account basically serves as a permanent online tribute to your loved one. The word ‘Remembering’ appears next to the account name, and it allows friends of the person to view content on the profile like pictures, videos, and past posts. The person in control of the account (sometimes called the Legacy Contact) can select custom privacy settings that will allow (or not allow) people to post new photos or messages on the page.
The Main Upsides:
- Family members and friends don’t completely lose the memories that are stored here, and people can continue to remember that person for years to come
- Birthday notifications are shut off, which is a welcomed feature for people who find days like that difficult to handle
- Cyber bullies exist. By leaving a profile open with privacy settings unmanaged, you run the risk of dealing with negative comments and posts. While this point is horrible, it’s important to consider in some scenarios
In terms of closure, keeping an online profile open and active may additional grief, where closing it entirely allows some people to move forward more easily
To memorialize an account, you’ll need to provide your email address, the deceased person’s full name on his or her account, the URL link to their profile, his or her date of birth and date of death, and proof of death (i.e. upload the death certificate or link to an online obituary).
Delete a Facebook Account
Deleting a Facebook page can only be done by a verified family member or executor. Doing this will permanently remove the profile and all of it’s content entirely. Certain items to remain available after the removal, such as private messages between the decedent and his or her Facebook friends. Photos, videos, posts, status updates, and any other content posted by the deceased will be removed over the course of 90 days after the removal request is made.
The Main Upsides:
- The main benefit of removing the account is that your loved one’s identity is safe from any online hackers or predators
- Some people find it easier to move forward with their lives by removing any way to look back
- Deleting an account is permanent, and you cannot retrieve photos and content once the profile has gone
- By removing a profile completely, you take away the possibilities to connect with everyone who once knew and loved that person
The grieving process is different for everyone, and while some take comfort in being able to visit the profile of a loved one after death, others prefer to close one chapter and move forward with their own memories. There is no right answer, and it is important to do what you feel is right for you and your family.
Why is this important?
There are over 1.5 billion active Facebook users worldwide each month, and when people set out to build their online profile, death is not typically top of mind. Unfortunately, online fraud and hacking is all too common, and unattended Facebook profiles are an easy target for online predators.
With an older audience embracing these online communities, it’s even more important to address the question of what to do with the profiles your loved ones leave behind.
So what would you prefer? Memorialization or a complete delete? Have you used social media to help you through your grief journey? Join the conversation, and share your experiences below.