What happens with a deceased person's social media accounts


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In today's social media there has come up situations where users, although they are dead, live on virtually. This has happened due to the complexity of an account deletion and transposition meanwhile causing unnecessary pain for the loved ones.
This has been a point of dispute for some time. The regulations state that the users must be able to access their own information and have the right to manage it on their lifetime. International laws have failed to regulate what happens with possessing information and account access when the owner dies.

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What happens with a deceased person's social media accounts

  1. 1. What happens with a deceased personssocial media accounts?By Kristjan-Paul Raude
  2. 2. IntroductionIn todays social media there has come upsituations where users, although they are dead,live on virtually. This has happened due to thecomplexity of an account deletion andtransposition meanwhile causing unnecessarypain for the loved ones.
  3. 3. Who owns the information we leave behing in socialmedia?This has been a point of dispute for some time.The regulations state that the users must be ableto access their own information and have theright to manage it on their lifetime. Internationallaws have failed to regulate what happens withpossessing information and account access whenthe owner dies.
  4. 4. How to erase the social media account after the deathof the user?• There is a global intellectual property law forwritings where the heirs have the right to possessthe content for another 60 years after the death ofthe author.• The problem is with online content as law does notregulate the management of intellectual propertyon the Internet after the death of an author.• Thereof the account management and deleting isextremely difficult or even impossible for the lovedones.
  5. 5. FacebookFacebook used to automatically delete accountafter a month when the user was declared dead.On demand of users request Facebook createdmemorial function.Nevertheless, it is believed that Facebook has over30 million dead accounts.
  6. 6. Important rules:• In order to protect the privacy of the deceased person Facebookhas created memorization pages.• Facebook does not give away holder ID or password, but asks tocontact via a memorialization request.• To delete the deceased person’s account an identified lovedones have to make a request to Facebook. Identified means thatFacebook needs a dead persons birth or death certificatessubmitted by the person who is identified by the notary.• If you want to possess the deceased person’s account profileand information you need to have a notarial document andfulfill an application on Facebooks website.In addition, Facebook notes that the submission of an applicationdoes not guarantee that your request is satisfied.
  7. 7. Memorization page©2012 RAM. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. TwitterTwitter makes account deletion easier but it is stillnecessary to have a notarial document thatproves your relation with the deceased one.Twitter provides an opportunity to close theaccount and all the information will beautomatically deleted.
  9. 9. Required information for account deletion:• The username of the deceased users Twitteraccount (e.g., @username ortwitter.com/username)• A copy of the deceased user’s death certificate• A copy of your government-issued ID (e.g.,driver’s license)• A signed statement by notary
  10. 10. LinkedIn• LinkedIn expects that the account will be shutdown, however LinkedIn maintains the right to usethe account data. To delete the account you needto contact the customer service and fill in a specificapplication.• The application can be signed digitally and it will beautomatically sent to LinkedIn customer serviceand a copy to the applier. To submit theapplication you need to know the person’s LinkedInregistration e-mail, otherwise the application willbe rejected.
  11. 11. Google+Google has different services that are allconnected with each other. Deleting Googleaccount results in deleting all related account. It ispossible to delete only Google+ account via Gmailcustomer service.
  12. 12. Two part scheme (Part one):Google expect to have:• full name,• physical mailing address,• e-mail address,• a photocopy of the government-issued ID or the driver’slicense,• the Gmail address• and the death certificate of the deceased person. If thedocument is not in English it should have certified Englishtranslation that has been prepared by a competenttranslator and notarized.
  13. 13. Two part scheme (Part two):• If Google decides that the first part was donecorrectly, they will ask additional information,like legal documents, including an order from aU.S. court and/or additional materials.When the paperwork is successfully done it ispossible to get an access to the account or shutdown all Google services including Google +.
  14. 14. Conclusion• Each social media environment has differentsolution for the problem. However, the commonthread that is needed is a signed document fromloved ones and a death certificate of the deceasedperson.• The difference arises from the fact that someenvironments provide access to the account,others delete it or retain the right to use accountinformation. The law does not set the rules forInternet intellectual property as an inheritance.
  15. 15. No right solution!• There are two ways to make it less harmful forrelatives. Either to let them decide what happenswith social media accounts of the deceased personor let each person set the settings while they arealive.• There is no one rule or a right solution across allsocial media accounts. It is clear that whentechnology keeps such a fast development,opportunities and environments change, butmourning psychologically remains the same.People need time and environment in which togrieve and to say what left unsaid.
  16. 16. About the authorKristjan-Paul RaudeWSI Online Managing partnerE-mail: kristjan@wsionline.eewww.wsionline.ee
  17. 17. THANK YOU!