Will you instruct your executor to memorialise or close your Facebook account or will you sign up to DeadSocial to post goodbye messages posthumously? The US government has created guidelines for dealing with your digital afterlife. It also provides a template social media will. The US government’s first guideline is to read the terms and privacy policies of the various social media websites. Let us break it down for you…


  • Will deactivate a deceased’s account on request by a person authorised to act on behalf of the estate or by a verified immediate family member.
  • Requires the following information to be sent by fax or post to its head office in San Francisco in order to process the request:
    • Deceased’s username (for example, @fake_username);
    • Death certificate;
    • Deceased’s identity document; and
    • A signed statement from the requester which includes:
      • First and last name;
      • Email address;
      • Contact information;
      • Relationship to the deceased;
      • Action required (i.e. “Please deactivate Twitter account”);
      • Evidence that the account belongs to the deceased (if the name of the account does not match the name on the death certificate); and
      • A link to an online obituary or a copy of a newspaper obituary (optional).
  • May contact the requester via email if further information is required.
  • Also accepts requests from immediate family members and other authorised individuals for the removal of images or videos of deceased individuals from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death. Requests to remove images or video can be sent to privacy@twitter.com. Twitter considers public interest factors when reviewing such requests (such as newsworthiness of content) and may not be able to honour every request.
  • May also deactivate inactive accounts after six months.


  • May memorialise (i.e. the deceased’s timeline is kept on Facebook but access and some features are limited) the account of a deceased person. Anyone can make the request to memorialise the profile, it does not have to be a family member or executor.
  • Requires the following information in order to memorialise an account:
    • Full name of deceased person as it is listed on the account;
    • A link to the Timeline for Facebook to investigate to ensure that it does not memorialise the account of someone with the same name;
    • Email addresses listed on the account;
    • Requester’s relationship to the deceased person;
    • Date of death;
    • Proof of death (for example, a link to an obituary or news article);
    • Requested action (i.e. to memorialise account); and
    • Requester’s contact email.
  • May process certain special requests, including requests to close an account, on receipt of a formal request from a verified family member or an executor of the deceased’s estate. Closing an account will completely remove the deceased’s profile and all associated content from Facebook so that no-one can view it.
  • Requires verification that the requester for special requests is an immediate family member or executor and will not process the request if they are unable to verify the requester’s relationship to the deceased person. Verification includes:
    • Providing the deceased’s persons birth certificate;
    • Providing the deceased’s persons death certificate;
    • Providing proof under local law that the requester is the lawful representative of the deceased person or their estate.
  • Will not provide anyone with login information to the deceased’s account.


  • May close a deceased persons account and remove their profile on receipt of a request (anyone can make the request to remove the profile, it does not have to be a family member or executor).  To do this the requester needs to answer some questions about the deceased by filling in a form via DocuSign. The form requires the following information:
    • Deceased’s name;
    • The company the deceased worked for;
    • The requester’s relationship to the deceased;
    • Link to the deceased’s profile; and
    • Deceased’s email address (if possible).
  • May, in closing an account, remove content associated with that account, for example, recommendations posted by the deceased on other profiles. There is no option to “memorialise” an account.
  • If the account is not closed the deceased’s LinkedIn connections will continue to receive notifications to endorse the deceased or to congratulate the deceased on a work anniversary or birthday. Users have reported that even profiles of closed accounts of deceased persons continue to be displayed in the “people you may know” notifications.

[Terms as at 27 August 2014]