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In our digital age, social media has become an essential aspect of many people's lives. However, the question arises as to what happens to these social media profiles when someone passes away. Families and friends face the dilemma of whether to preserve the deceased's digital presence as a way of commemorating their memory or take the decision to deactivate the account as part of the closure process. This article aims to explore the different options available for memorializing or deactivating social media profiles while understanding the specific policies of each platform.

Each social media platform has its approach towards dealing with the accounts of deceased users. For instance, Facebook offers memorialization of profiles, allowing loved ones to continue accessing the account solely as a place to gather and share memories. While some platforms provide the possibility of deactivation, it is crucial to be aware of the varying policies governing this area. Understanding the options and steps involved for each platform can help those grieving to make an informed decision that honors their loved one's memory while maintaining a sense of closure.

Understanding Social Media Memorialization

Memorialized Accounts

Memorialization of social media profiles has become increasingly common in the digital age. Through the process of memorialization, a user's profile is turned into a digital memorial, allowing friends and family to continue to access and interact with the account in remembrance of the deceased person. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer the option to memorialize accounts, with varying features and limitations.

A memorialized account usually consists of these aspects:

  • The word "Remembering" added before the user's name
  • Profile visibility limited to friends or users connected before memorialization
  • Prevention of future logins and changes to the account

Deactivation vs Memorialization

Deactivation and memorialization are two options for handling a deceased person's social media account, each with its own purpose and implications.

  • Deactivation: Involves the permanent removal of a user's account, including all content and interactions. This option eliminates the digital presence of the deceased, reducing the possibility of distress for grieving connections. Deactivation prevents users from accessing the profile and makes recovery impossible.
  • Memorialization: Preserves the account as a digital memorial, enabling friends and family to reminisce, share memories, and post messages of condolence. It offers a unique space for collective mourning and remembrance, while maintaining control and privacy settings specified by the account holder.

Benefits of Memorializing Profiles

Memorializing social media profiles offers several benefits to grieving individuals and communities:

  1. Preserving memories: Memorialization allows friends and family to revisit shared memories, photos, and posts, thus keeping the memory of the deceased alive.
  2. Supportive environment: Memorialized accounts foster a sense of community and support among grieving connections, providing a space for sharing condolences, stories, and emotions.
  3. Cultural adaptation: Memorializing social media profiles incorporates mourning and remembrance practices into the digital landscape, recognizing the increasing role that social media plays in contemporary culture, as highlighted in this article.
  4. Privacy and security: Memorialization ensures that account information, content, and privacy settings are preserved and protected, preventing unauthorized access and changes to the account after the user's passing.

By understanding the intricacies of social media memorialization, individuals can make informed decisions about how to manage the online presence of their loved ones following their passing. Through memorialized accounts, deactivation, or a combination of both, friends and family can navigate the process of mourning and remembrance in a way that best suits their needs and the wishes of the deceased.

Platform-Specific Policies and Procedures

In this section, we will explore the policies and procedures for memorializing or deactivating social media profiles on different platforms, covering Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google.


Facebook offers an option to memorialize the accounts of deceased individuals, preserving their timeline and limiting access to some features. Friends and family can continue to share memories, and the word "Remembering" is added to the person's profile.

Additionally, Facebook allows users to appoint a legacy contact who can manage a memorialized account. The legacy contact can write pinned posts, respond to friend requests, and update the profile and cover photos. They cannot, however, read the deceased's private messages or remove any friends.

If preferred, family members can request to remove a loved one's account.


Like Facebook, Instagram offers an account memorialization option. Once an account is memorialized, it cannot be changed or removed. The profile will be labeled "Remembering," and comments and existing posts will remain visible to their respective audiences.

To request memorialization, you'll need to provide proof of death, such as a death certificate or news article. Instagram does not allow the appointment of a legacy contact.

To remove a deceased person's account, a family member can submit a request.


Twitter provides the option to permanently deactivate a deceased user's account. To initiate this process, a family member or authorized individual must submit a privacy request and provide proof of death.

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter does not offer account memorialization.


For memorializing YouTube accounts, Google's Inactive Account Manager grants users the ability to decide the fate of their account and content after a predefined period of inactivity. They can choose to share their data with trusted contacts or have it deleted automatically.

If a family member wishes to close a deceased person's YouTube channel, they can submit a request with Google, providing necessary documentation.


Pinterest does not offer account memorialization but allows the deactivation of a deceased user's account. To initiate this process, a family member or authorized individual can contact Pinterest and provide relevant documentation, like a death certificate and proof of authority.


Google offers the Inactive Account Manager tool, allowing users to determine the outcome of their account and content after a specified period of inactivity. Users can opt to share access with trusted contacts or automatically delete their data.

Family members can also submit a request to Google for the removal or access of a deceased individual's content, providing necessary documentation.

Managing the Deceased's Social Media Profiles

Designating a Legacy Contact

A Legacy Contact is a person assigned by the social media account holder to manage their account after their death. It is essential for individuals to designate a Legacy Contact while they are still alive to ensure a smoother transition of their social media presence after death. To designate a Legacy Contact, one must follow the specific policies and procedures provided by each social media platform.

For instance, on Facebook, users can assign another Facebook user as their Legacy Contact, granting them access to handle specific account management tasks such as:

  • Accepting friend requests
  • Creating a pinned post
  • Moderating tributes and posts
  • Updating profile and cover photos

The Role of an Executor

An Executor is a person appointed in the deceased's estate plan to manage their assets, including their social media accounts. Executors should be aware of the various social media platforms' policies to handle the deceased's social media profiles correctly. An Executor's responsibility typically involves either memorializing or deactivating the deceased's accounts.

For example, to request the memorialization of a deceased's Facebook account, an immediate family member or the Executor must provide a valid death certificate. Alternatively, they can provide:

  • The deceased's birth certificate
  • The deceased's government-issued ID (e.g., driver's license)
  • Proof of authority (e.g., power of attorney)

To deactivate a deceased's Facebook account, the Executor must provide similar documents and establish proof that they have authority to manage the estate affairs.

It's crucial for the Executor to understand the specific policies and requirements of each social media platform to ensure proper management of the deceased's online presence. This process can help families and friends keep memories alive, create online tributes, or maintain privacy, depending on their preferences.

Providing Documentation and Proof

Submitting Proof of Death

When having to deal with social media memorialization, it is vital to have proper documentation to submit proof of death. The primary form of documentation required is generally a death certificate. This document serves as official proof that recognizes the passing of an individual. In some cases, however, an obituary can also serve as evidence, but these might not be accepted by certain platforms.

It is important to understand that different social media platforms may have varying policies on the documents they accept for account memorialization. For instance, Facebook requests a scan or photo of the deceased individual's death certificate for the fastest resolution. Providing accurate and timely documentation is essential for a smooth memorialization process.

Providing Proof of Authority

When requesting memorialization or deactivation of a deceased person's social media profile, platforms often require the person making the request to have a certain level of authority relating to the deceased. This could mean being an immediate family member or an executor of the deceased's estate. Proof of authority may be required in the form of a birth certificate, legal documentation, or a testament that establishes the requester's relationship to the deceased.

Submitting proof of authority is essential to ensure privacy, protect sensitive information, and prevent unauthorized access or alteration of the deceased's social media account. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific policies and documentation requirements of different platforms to make the process more efficient and less challenging.

By following these guidelines and requirements, submitting proof of death and proof of authority becomes a relatively straightforward process. It is imperative to remember that complying with these requirements will ultimately help in providing a respectful digital memorial for the deceased on their social media platforms.

Customizing the Memorialized Account

When it comes to preserving the memory of a loved one on social media, there are several features and options for customizing memorialized accounts. This section will briefly explore customization options, including the Cover Photo and Profile Picture, the Tributes Section, and Managing Friend Requests and Messages.

Cover Photo and Profile Picture

The deceased user's friends and family can personalize the memorialized account by updating the cover photo and profile picture. These visual elements are important as they provide an opportunity to share a meaningful image that best represents or honors the deceased person.

Tributes Section

Memorialized accounts often offer the option to create a dedicated tributes section, where friends and family members can post condolences, share memories, or upload photos and videos that celebrate the life of the deceased. This space serves as a virtual gathering spot for the bereaved community, enabling them to support one another and create a lasting online tribute.

For example, Facebook Memorialized Accounts have a Tributes section that keeps timeline posts separate, preserving the deceased's original timeline and allowing friends and family to post new messages in the designated Tributes area.

Managing Friend Requests and Messages

When an account is memorialized, certain functionalities are restricted or modified to respect privacy and prevent misuse. On some platforms, including Facebook, the ability to send friend requests and messages to the memorialized account is disabled. However, some platforms may still allow friends of the deceased to interact through comments, likes, and reactions on their existing posts and content. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific policies and guidelines for memorialized accounts on each social media platform to fully understand how friend requests and messages are managed.

Account Deletion and Accessibility

Deletion Vs. Inactivity

When a loved one passes away, families face the decision of whether to delete, memorialize, or leave the deceased person's social media accounts inactive. Choosing to delete the account permanently removes it from the platform, while memorializing it transforms the profile into a space for friends and family to remember and honor the deceased. Inactive accounts remain untouched, leaving the deceased's online presence intact but without any updates or control.

Requesting Account Deletion

In most cases, the process of deleting or memorializing a deceased family member's social media account requires official proof of the person's death and the requester's relationship to the deceased. For instance, Facebook allows verified immediate family members to request account memorialization or deletion with the necessary documentation.

On Instagram, a similar process requires an immediate family member to provide proof of the user's death and their relationship to the person. This can be done through Instagram's Help Center.

For Twitter, the process is a little different. The platform does not offer memorialization options but does allow an authorized representative to request account deletion. This can be done by submitting a request and providing the required information.

The following summarizes the process for each platform.


Account Deletion – Yes

Account Memorialization: Yes

Proof Required: Death certificate, relationship to thedeceased


Account Deletion – Yes

Account Memorialization: Yes

Proof Required: Death certificate, relationship to thedeceased


Account Deletion – Yes

Account Memorialization: No

Proof Required: Death certificate, relationship to thedeceased

In all cases, it is important that families consider the wishes of the deceased and the potential impact on friends and loved ones before making a decision regarding account deletion, memorialization, or inactivity.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Loved One

When considering how to handle a deceased loved one's social media profiles, it's important to explore the memorialization and deactivation options offered by each platform. This will help ensure their online presence is treated respectfully and aligns with their wishes or the preferences of their family.


Facebook offers a tribute section for memorialized profiles, allowing friends and family to share stories, commemorate milestones, and remember the deceased. To memorialize a Facebook account, a family member or friend can submit a request, providing necessary documentation to support their claim. Facebook also enables users to choose a Legacy Contact who can manage certain aspects of their memorialized account after their passing.

During this process, the account holder can specify preferences such as allowing friends to continue sharing posts or opting for complete account deletion. Facebook offers instructions on how to remove a loved one's account after their death for immediate family members who provide the necessary documentation.


Twitter allows immediate family members or authorized individuals to request the removal of a deceased person's account. This process involves submitting a privacy case form and providing required documents, such as a death certificate and proof of identity. Twitter does not offer a memorialization option, so the only choice for families is account deletion.


Similar to its parent company, Facebook, Instagram provides an option to memorialize accounts after someone has passed away. To do this, a family member or a friend should submit a request, providing proof of death. Once an account is memorialized, it's secured, preventing any further content from being shared and ensuring existing content remains visible. However, Instagram does not currently offer a dedicated tribute section like Facebook.

Online Memorials

If social media platforms don't offer the desired memorialization options, there are alternative websites dedicated to creating online memorials. These platforms allow friends and family to create a personalized online space to share memories, stories, and photos of their loved one. Examples of such platforms include,, and

Choosing the right option for memorializing or deactivating a loved one's social media profiles depends on the platform and the preferences of the deceased or their family members. It's essential to consider each social media platform's policies and, if necessary, explore alternative methods such as dedicated online memorial platforms.

Preserve Virtual Legacies with Heirloom Safe

In our digital age, preserving the memory of loved ones is crucial, even in the virtual realm. With the increasing importance of social media profiles, the dilemma of what to do with these accounts after someone passes away becomes ever more relevant. At Heirloom Safe, we understand the significance of preserving online legacies, which is why our cloud-based storage service is the ideal solution for safeguarding social media credentials and online account information. Securely store your valuable digital assets, and provide families and friends with peace of mind, ensuring that your cherished memories and connections are preserved for future generations. Start preserving your online legacy today with Heirloom Safe – the trusted choice for safeguarding your digital presence.

Heirloom Safe is not a law or financial advisory firm, and our employees do not act as legal or financial advisors. Our articles aim to provide accurate, general information. Given estate planning's complexity, we strongly recommend consulting with a licensed professional tailored to your needs. Please use Heirloom Safe's information responsibly and alongside professional advice.

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Heirloom Safe allows you to store your Will, Living Trust, estate plan, and personal documents in a safe, convenient vault with the ability to manage updates anytime. Upon your incapacitation or passing, your documents are automatically shared with whomever you designate as your Legacy Contact.