What happens to your Facebook account after you die?
That question came into focus this week after parents in Berlin were denied access to their deceased daughter’s account. The parents, who suspect their daughter may have been bullied and committed suicide by purposely falling in front of a train, went to court for the right to view the unidentified 15-year-old’s profile and messages.
The court rejected their plea, citing a telecommunications secrecy law that doesn’t allow heirs to see the online communications of a deceased family member, The Guardian reported.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Global News that the company doesn’t provide login information to anyone, regardless of their personal relations.
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In the teen’s case, the social networking site had already memorialized the account. No one can access a memorialized account unless they’re indicated a “legacy contact” before their death.
Choosing what happens to your account after you die is largely up to you — but you have to select the settings before that. Here are your options:
Ask Facebook to delete your account
If you want Facebook to delete your account after you die, specifically ask for it, otherwise it will likely be memorialized.
Deletion, unlike deactivation, means no one can regain access. According to Facebook, erasing data of deleted profiles could take up to 90 days, however your information isn’t accessible while this happens.
How to ask for your profile to be deleted.
Memorialize your profile
Memorialized accounts prefix the user’s name with “Remembering.” Content shared by the user is still visible to the audience they chose to share it with, but the profile doesn’t show up on the “People You May Know” page, ads or birthday reminders, according to Facebook. The profile is locked and can’t be edited in any way.
A verified immediate family member must provide proof of death in order for an account to be memorialized.
You can request Facebook to memorialize an account here.
Choose a legacy contact
If you choose to appoint a person as your legacy contact, they will have limited access to your account after it’s memorialized.
They can pin a post on your profile, such as a final message indicating funeral details. Legacy contacts can also accept friend requests and update your profile and cover photo.
However, they can’t log into your account, remove or change pre-existing posts, or delete friends.
Legacy contacts must be over 19 years old. Take these steps to choose your contact.
Other social media sites
Each social media site has slightly different rules surrounding deaths.
Click here to find out how other networks, such as Twitter and Instagram, handle deceased users’ accounts.
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