What to do with a loved one's social media accounts when they die

What to do with a loved one’s social media accounts when they die

  •  Facebook and Twitter both have features to remove dead person’s profile

Any death, whenever it occurs and whomever to, sends shockwaves through familial and social units who are often completely blindsided by the loss no matter the circumstances of the departure. 

But in and amongst the blur of those grey days and weeks spent planning funerals and memorial services, one crucial aspect of the deceased lives almost always gets neglected: namely, what on earth are we supposed to do with their social media?

It’s a sad truth that social media has fundamentally changed the way we live and interact with the world and our loved ones. 

Many of us live our life through our phones and when we’re gone we leave behind a vast digital footprint that can seem impossible to control or erase which can cause your loved ones unexpected stress alongside their grief.

Luckily, there are ways to get a hold of your online presence before you kick the bucket. But you’ll need to have a few awkward conversations first!

When a person dies they leave behind an online legacy that can be hard to remove 

Sites like Facebook and Instagram allow you to memorialise your account when you’re gone 

According to Dipti Tait, a behavioural psychologist and hypnotherapist, the effects of social media can linger long after a person’s death – and the impacts can be positive or negative. 

How to take control of your a dead person’s social media when they’re gone

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer users the option of nominating someone to look after their social media pages once they’ve passed. 


From your main profile, click your profile photo in the top right of Facebook.

Select Settings and privacy, then click Settings.

Below General profile settings, click Memorialisation settings.

Type in a friend’s name in Choose a friend and click Add.

To let your friend know they’re now your legacy contact, click Send.

To change or remove a legacy contact, follow steps 1-3 above, then click Remove. From there, you can add a new legacy contact if you’d like.

If your main profile is memorialised, your legacy contact will be notified.


Twitter are unable to provide a family member or friend access to the deceased’s account for security reasons. 

You can request the removal of a dead person’s account. 

You will need:

  • Information about the deceased
  • A copy of your ID
  • A copy of their death certificate


Instagram allows users to memorialise or delete a dead persons account. 

As with other platforms, you will need to provide proof of death. 

Should you wish to remove a person’s profile you would use this form. 

To memorialise, you would need to use this request form. 

She told the MailOnline: ‘Social media can be a positive thing and a hugely negative thing. 

‘For some people it isn’t useful to have reminders of the departed person due to a variety of delicate and sensitive reasons.

‘On the other side, there’s a sense of community in grieving together.

‘Of course the level of which you would like to be memorialized is up to you. 

‘There are steps people can take before you die to set the boundaries of how you will be remembered.’

Getting access to a person’s social media once they’ve passed can be a strenuous and emotionally exhausting task. 

Most platforms now allow people to select a legacy contact to pass control over to in the event of their death but the chosen party will still need to send off a death certificate to be granted access.

Dipti continued: ‘It’s important to talk to your close ones before you pass so they avoid the bureaucracy of dealing with the social media companies. 

‘Sometimes it can be hard to get your message across which can cause unnecessary grief.

‘It’s a strange conversation to have but it’s one worth having.’

According to Dipti, whose book Planet Grief touches on a variety of emotional and practical responses to death, there are some instances when having any reminder of a loved one online can be a negative. 

She continued: ‘For some, the reminders  of the people no longer with us can be untimely and provoke a reaction in a place that we feel is inappropriate. 

‘This can affect us when we have not fully accepted the reality of the death or the loss, and we may react by pushing down our emotions quickly so that the grief feels contained.’

One person who knows all to well the comfort social media can bring to those we leave behind is branding expert Sonya Dhillon who was forced to suddenly come to terms with the loss of her close cousin. 

When he passed away from cancer, aged just 22-years old Sonya said that his planning ahead had made the grieving process – online at least- far more streamlined. 

She said: ‘There are settings involved where you can appoint someone when you pass away who can make it a memorial or deactivate it.

‘When my cousin passed away there wasn’t that option, he had to give his dad his password so he could get it set up.

‘We made him a memorial, we like to have it there so we can talk to him and wish him a heavenly birthday.

‘For me it’s nice to know that your socials will be looked after. Nowadays if someone dies all people do is go there to reminisce.’

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