In today’s culture, individuals of all ages typically have some sort of social media account. When a loved one passes away, their virtual footprint remains. You may have mixed emotions about what to do regarding these accounts. The good news is there are various options you and other family members can consider when deciding how to best honor your loved one’s digital presence.
Some major social media platforms have memorialization options for after loss. Accounts can be “memorialized” on Facebook, which prevents the account from showing up under “People You May Know” or triggering birthday announcements. However, keep in mind that Facebook will not provide log in information, even under these circumstances. Once the account is memorialized, it will not be able to be altered unless your loved one chose a Facebook user as a “legacy contact.” A legacy contact has the ability to approve new friend requests, change profile/cover photos, monitor any posts or shared content on the profile’s timeline, and write a pinned post on behalf of the user. Although the legacy contact can make specific changes to the account, they do not have complete access to it. The legacy contact cannot edit/delete any content written or shared before the individual’s passing nor can they read any personal messages. Memorializing an account can help bring comfort to grieving friends and family. They may feel as if they can stay “connected” with their loved one by being able to post thoughts, memories, or photos to their wall.
Though memorialization may be a healthy mourning option for some, it may not be the best fit for others. If seeing a lost loved one’s social media stirs up unhealthy emotions, then deletion is another option you can consider. Social media companies have different requirements that must be met in order to have content removed from their site. Therefore, it is crucial to read each social media platform’s policies on what information is necessary for deletion and the rights you and your family have over previously posted content. Remember, deleting an online account is permanent. Take time to contemplate and consult with family members to ensure this option is what is best for your healing heart.
Let It Be
During your grieving season it may be hard to determine what action you would like to take towards your loved one’s social media accounts. Or perhaps the effort it takes to memorialize or delete an account seems too strenuous. In either case, choosing to leave social media accounts alone is also an acceptable option. Some considerations to keep in mind if you choose to leave the account alone is that all content will remain public, friends will still receive birthday notifications, and they will still show up in online searches or “People You May Know” sections. You may find serenity knowing the account remains untouched since your loved one last logged in.
How would you like your social media assets handled? It is beneficial to start thinking about this question now in order to help your family save time and respect your digital private property. There are also data protection companies that specialize in keeping your login information and digital assets safe. However you chose to store your personal information, it is essential to communicate with relatives on how to best honor your digital wishes. Leaving families in the dark can create a predicament amongst loved ones. Consider setting your own legacy contact on Facebook and writing down usernames and passwords to your social media accounts and placing them in a safe place where your next of kin can find it. This can decrease the time of a potentially tedious and stressful process for family members during their time of grief.
There are many different opinions on how a lost loved one’s social media profiles can be handled, but ultimately the choice is up to you. Examine the pros and cons of each option and take time to assess what decision is best for your family. Finding out how to best respect your loved one’s social media will allow your heart to begin the healing process in your grief journey.