The rise of digital technology means that many young people will have several social media accounts on the go.
First steps to closing an account
Every social networking site has its own policy in place for deactivating accounts on behalf of a loved one who has passed away. Some accounts will remain active unless you notify them and others will automatically shut down after a certain length of time.
Unless a young person set up a password manager on their computer or used an online digital service to save and store passwords and usernames securely, you will need to contact each company separately. The majority of companies will not pass on any password or username information.
There can be a difference between an account that has been deactivated and one where all of the content and data is deleted completed, so don’t be afraid to query exactly what information will or won’t be stored.
Social networking sites
There are two options when it comes to letting Facebook know when a loved one dies:
- A profile can be changed into a memorial page
- A profile can be removed completely.
Only verified immediate family members can request the complete removal of an account along with all associated content or a memorial page.
To do this you need to provide:
- Your child’s birth certificate and death certificate
- Proof of authority that you are the lawful representative of your child, or his/her estate.
Google will only allow immediate family members or legal representatives to close online accounts and ‘in certain circumstances may provide content from a deceased user’s account’.
To deactivate a Google account you need to provide the following information:
- Your full name
- Your email address
- Full name of your child
- Gmail address, Google or YouTube account of your child
- Date of death
- Your relationship to your child (immediate family or legal representative/executor)
- Which product your request is about: Google Account (all products), Blogger, Google+ or other (you’ll need to provide the URL of these pages)
- A scanned copy of ID (driver’s license or government-issued ID)
- A scanned copy of the death certificate (if this or your ID is not in English, you will need to provide a certified English translation)
Although Instagram is owned by Facebook and the process is almost identical, you will need to send your request separately. To deactivate an account you will need to submit a report and include the following information:
- The account holder’s birth certificate and death certificate
- Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate
- An obituary
In order to deactivate a LinkedIn account you will need to provide:
- Your child’s name and your relationship to them
- The URL to their LinkedIn profile
- Their email address
- The date your child died
- A link to an obituary
- The company they most recently worked at
Pinterest will deactivate an account on your behalf as long as you provide the following information. It won’t give out any personal or login information. To start the process you will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information:
- Your full name
- Your child’s full name and email address of the Pinterest account holder
- A link to their Pinterest account (for example, pinterest.com/USERNAME). If you don’t know this you can search for it on http://pinterest.com/all/
- A death certificate, obituary or news article
- Your relationship to the account holder (with documentation to verify this, such as a birth certificate, family tree and so on. If your name is included in the obituary this is also accepted).
You can request for a profile to be deactivated as long as you provide a death certificate, ID and a signed statement including:
- Your first and last name
- Your email address
- Your contact information
- Your relationship to the child
- The action requested, in other words ‘Please deactivate the Twitter account’
- Evidence that the account belongs to the young person (for example, if the name on the account is different to the one on the death certificate)
- A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)
Mobile phone apps
If your child had a smart phone, there may be apps on it. You can usually uninstall these easily from the handset without needing to contact anyone.
However, one popular app that you may want to deactivate (because it shares images and messages) is Snapchat. Although there isn’t an actual policy on what happens someone dies, parents or legal guardians can delete an account by visiting the following link: www.snapchat.com/static_files/deletion_request.pdf.
Children under 13 may be using SnapKidz.
Reviewed October 2015, next planned review 2016