The last thing people want to deal with after a death is social media accounts.

By incorporating social media closure advice into your service you can tap into a simple and worthwhile market that will put families at ease.

I take a closer look at the world of digital gravestones.

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Pushing Daisies.
Credit: MKH Marketing

There are few things as painful as seeing a dead relative’s Facebook profile – yet another reminder of the hole they have left, permanent in cyberspace, and at risk from trolls (internet slang for a person who sows discord online by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory or offensive comments) but it is possible to close down and even memorialise profiles.

As people spend more of their time online it is increasingly common that people are unaware when their friends have passed away and miss the funeral. Notifying people of a death through social media can work as an effective tool for spreading the news of a death, ensuring that people won’t miss the funeral or chosen commemorative ceremony.

How do social media companies deal with deceased people’s profiles? And how easy is it to report the death of a relative or friend to a big corporation?

It turns out- quite easy, so long as the family can provide you with specific details.

 

Here are quick links for the major social media players- I have left soundcloud, reddit, pinterest, flickr, instagram etc accounts – they don’t carry as much emotional weight as these main websites.
Facebook                                                     or check out our guide
Twitter                                                       or check out our guide
LinkedIn                                                    or check out our guide
Google+                                                     or check out our guide

Below is a walk-through guide that will show you how to find the relevant pages in the future without returning to this page. Now you can help families to make informed choices about what happens to their loved ones profiles.

Let’s start with the biggest social media player:

 

 

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Facebook allows friends and relatives to chose between two options. It is possible to memorialise the account- preserving the account as it is online forever or to simply delete the account forever. A private third party app exists, if i die gives users an extra option to record their own message that will be uploaded once they die.

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. Full name of deceased person
2. Link to the timeline you’d like to report
3. Email address listed on the account
4. When did the person pass away?
5. Proof of death- you will need a link to an obituary or news article (for memorialising the account only)
6. Verification that you’re an immediate family member (Scanned or digital documentation of the death certificate, the deceased person’s birth certificate or proof of authority) (for deleting the account only)

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

Logically the first move is to visit the ‘Help’ page

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Scroll down until you see ‘Report Something’ in the column on the left of the screen
Click ‘Report Something’
You then have the following options:

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Oddly you’ll need to click ‘Report a Violation’, then scroll down until you see:

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 15.53.41After clicking ‘How do I report a deceased person or an account that needs to be memorialized?’ you’ll be presented with 2 options.

1. Memorialising the account
When an account is memorialised, only confirmed friends can see the timeline or locate it in the search bar.
Content the deceased person shared (ex: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with.
The timeline will no longer appear in the suggestions section of the home page, and, depending on the privacy settings of the deceased’s account, friends and family can leave posts on the profile in remembrance.
Memorialized accounts cannot be modified in any way. This includes adding or removing friends, modifying photos or deleting any pre-existing content posted by the person.
Facebook does not share the login information for the account with anyone. Once an account has been memorialised, it is completely secured and cannot be accessed or altered by anyone.

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. Full name of deceased person
2. Link to the timeline you’d like to report
3. Email address listed on the account
4. When did the person pass away?
5. Proof of death- you will need a link to an obituary or news article

2. Deleting the account
This should be fairly self explanatory. Facebook will require this request to originate from verified immediate family members. This option will completely delete the timeline and all associated content from Facebook for good, so no one can view it. All pictures and posts originating from the profile in question will be removed.

Facebook will require documentation to prove the passing of the deceased. Examples of documentation Facebook will accept include the deceased’s birth/death certificate, or proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate.

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. Full name on the deceased person’s account
2. Account email address of the deceased person
3. Web address (URL) of the timeline
4. When did the person pass away?
5. Verification that you’re an immediate family member (Scanned or digital documentation of the death certificate, the deceased person’s birth certificate or proof of authority)

There is now a third option: if i die
if i die is a Facebook app that allows users to create a text or video message that will be published after their death.
‘Trustee’s’ are chosen by the user, who then report the death to Facebook.
Once the death is reported and verified the video or text message will go live online.

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What about Twitter?
Twitter is a little simpler- it’s only possible to deactivate a twitter account.

Bizarrely for an social media corporation Twitter currently only accept notification through fax or the post (to an American address).

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. The username of the deceased user’s Twitter account (e.g., @username or twitter.com/username)
2. A copy of the deceased user’s death certificate
3. A copy of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license)
4. A signed statement including:
Your first and last name
Your email address
Your current contact information
Your relationship to the deceased user or their estate
5. Action requested (e.g., ‘please deactivate the Twitter account’)
6. A brief description of the details that evidence this account belongs to the deceased, if the name on the account does not match the name on death certificate.
7. A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

Again you’ll find the option to Contact Twitter about a deceased user within the Help section… Scroll down

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…until you see Policies and Violations

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Click ‘See more’…

You will then see:

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                                                                                            Scroll down until you see:

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Click ‘Contacting Twitter about a deceased user’ and you have arrived.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 17.14.20What about LinkedIn? It’s important that business tool and the user may continue receiving messages and job offers through the website.

Again with LinkedIn there is just one option- to remove the profile

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. The user’s name
2. The company they worked at most recently
3. A link to their profile.
4. It’s helpful to provide the user’s email address in order to verify their account

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 17.34.31Find the LinkedIn Help center.
There isn’t a specific path to follow to arrive at the option to Remove the Deceased LinkedIn Member’s profile. Simply type ‘deceased’, ‘death’ or similar in the search bar.

You’ll be presented with a few answer results, select:

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 17.37.22From here you’ll be directed to a docu-sign form to create an official request to LinkedIn.

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Some people do use Google Plus. Jokes aside, relatives and friends may wish to close the account down.

Interestingly there isn’t an elaborate process to go through this procedure and it is possible to access a deceased person’s email, this may be useful for contacting friends who would want to attend a funeral, but for whom relatives and other friends lack contact details for.

Information you’ll need to complete this process.
1. Your physical mailing address
2. Your email address
3. A photocopy of your government-issued ID or driver’s license
4. The Gmail address of the deceased person
5. The death certificate of the deceased person. If the document is not in English, a certified English      translation that has been prepared by a competent translator and notarized is required.
6. The full header from an email you received from the deceased’s gmail account.

As with Twitter you’ll need to fax or send the information via post to an American address.

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

Start at the Google Help Center. To get there Google ‘Google Help Center’. You’ll arrive here.

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Click on ‘Account’, then ‘Sign in or out’

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 17.58.57‘Accessing a deceased person’s mail’ is the option you’re looking for.
Provide the following:
1. Your Name, email address and physical mailing address,
2. A photocopy of your government-issued ID or driver’s license
3. The Gmail address of the deceased person
4. The death certificate of the deceased person. If the document is not in English, a certified English      translation that has been prepared by a competent translator and notarized is required.
5. The full header from an email you received from the deceased’s gmail account.

and fax or post the details to:
Google Inc.
Gmail User Support – Decedents’ Accounts
c/o Google Custodian of Records
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Fax: 650-396-4502

After reviewing the application Google will notify the concerned party by email. In some cases, this waiting period may take up to a few months. Google will then send further instructions requiring additional legal documents, including an order from a U.S. court and/or additional materials.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.