Nobody ever really dies in the 21st century because even when your physical body leaves the world, a digital legacy is left behind. When you die, it doesn’t necessarily mean your social media self dies too.
According to reports in 2016, around 8000 Facebook users die daily, the equivalent of 428 every hour.
In the first ten years of Facebook’s existence, 30 million users died — with 312,500 now reportedly passing away each month.
In fact, if the social networking giant stops growing, more users will be dead than alive by 2065.
So what happens to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts when you die?
Although Facebook has measures in place for dead profiles, according to The Sun, some massive social media sites will keep accounts active long after the user has died.
If a Twitter user dies, the company says it will work with a person authorised to act on the behalf of the estate — or a verified immediate family member — to have an account deactivated.
It is also possible to request the removal of a deceased user’s account, but they will require a copy of ID from the person making the request and a copy of the death certificate.
However, Twitter clearly states that it will not give access to a deceased user’s account regardless of his or hers relationship to the family member or friend requesting authorisation.
When it comes to Facebook, the social networking site added a new setting last year that gives users the option of having their account permanently deleted when they die.
Otherwise users can choose a friend or family member to become a “legacy contact” and take control of some aspects of their account after their death. Facebook requires proof of death before this can be activated.
Legacy contacts can post a final message on the profile before it is turned into a memorial where friends can post messages of remembrance and sympathy.
Unsuitable content can be moderated by the legacy contact.
To choose a legacy contact, users have to access settings and under the Security tab, and choose the “Legacy Contact” option that appears at the bottom.
Like Facebook, Instagram memorialises accounts, but they can’t be changed and no one can log into the profile.
Posts of the deceased user will stay shared on the site and are visible to the people they were shared with, but memorialised accounts do not appear in public spaces like searches.
Instagram asks that friends and relatives get in touch via email to notify them that a user has died. The picture-sharing app asks for proof of death.
Pinterest will not hand over log in details for a dead user, but it will deactivate their account if you send an email with a list of required information, including proof of the user’s death.
You must provide a copy of the user’s death certificate, an obituary or a link to a news article as proof for Pinterest to deactivate the deceased user’s account.
When it comes to emails, Google users can set up an “Inactive Account Manager” to delete their email account after a period of inactivity. Gmail will, however, allow a friend or relative to apply to obtain the contents of a deceased person’s email.
Yahoo will let relatives and friends delete an account if they have proof of death.
Users also have the option of setting an Inactive Account Manager, which either shares or delete your account after a set period of inactivity.
But Apple work slightly differently in that iCloud and iTunes accounts are “non transferable” — meaning that any rights to information terminate when a user dies.