As you’ve probably noticed, my blog posts thus far have been all about pop culture, and are meant to (hopefully) make you laugh. But there’s been something more serious that I’ve wanted to write about for a while.
When someone you love passes away, it’s hard. There are often lots of decisions that need to be made and tasks that need to be done – and it’s all happening when you’re in the throes of grief.
Funeral arrangements to make, credit cards to cancel, wills to execute… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But what about your loved one’s digital footprint?
You can deactivate a loved one’s Twitter account and memorialize their Instagram. But let’s look at Facebook, as its design has more features that make memorialization even more important. Today, a friend posted that her dad’s profile had disappeared – and that’s what prompted me to finally get on the laptop and type this post.
Also, the five-year anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming up next month, so she (and that time in my life) have been on my mind more than usual lately.
How do I do it?
Facebook has a section in its help center that can walk you through the steps – but there’s something you can do right now to make it easier should you find yourself in the position to memorialize an account. Ensure that you’re a verified family member of… well.. your family members. Then, when the time comes, you simply need to contact Facebook with a copy of the death certificate (or other documentation) and the account will be memorialized.
What happens when I memorialize an account?
There are many reasons to memorialize a Facebook account. Here’s what Facebook says will happen:
The word Remembering will be shown next to the person’s name on their profile
Depending on the privacy settings of the account, friends can share memories on the memorialized Timeline
Content the person shared (ex: photos, posts) stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with
Memorialized profiles don’t appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders
No one can log into a memorialized account
Memorialized accounts that don’t have a legacy contact can’t be changed
Pages with a sole admin whose account was memorialized will be removed from Facebook if we receive a valid request
Why should I do it?
Along with the above-mentioned features of memorialization, there are other good reasons to ensure your loved one’s profile is switched over:
- It keeps it from hackers – If hackers gain access to your loved one’s account, all sorts of things could happen. Could you imagine seeing your name tagged in a Ray-Ban ad “posted” by your loved one… or worse? And what happens to hacked accounts? If reported, they get deleted.
- You can still post on their wall – As long as the person allowed wall posts before, you can still post on their wall after they’ve passed… To share a memory or thought. You can still read message histories, too.
- It protects their pages – Lately, I’ve been getting ads for dormant business pages (one was a seniors’ residence) – but these businesses were selling erectile dysfunction medication. When you memorialize your loved one, it removes them as admins from their pages as well so this won’t happen.
- It Lets Other People Know Your Loved One Has Passed – As Facebook friends range from close family to casual acquaintances, it’s possible that some people may not be aware your loved one has passed away. Memorializing a page lets people know, so they’re not wondering why messages haven’t been answered or wall posts aren’t acknowledged.
What can I do?
- Spread the Word – Share this post, talk about memorialization with loved ones. I tend to think the main reason pages don’t get memorialized is because people don’t realize it can be done.
- Leave a Directive – When writing your will, include a section about your digital footprint – what you want to be done, and who you want to do it. An interesting (if somewhat unrelated) fact: loyalty club points (like PC Optimum, HBC rewards, and so on) can only be transferred to immediate family members if it’s laid out in the will.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled snark and stuff.