‘Posting Beyond the Grave: What Happens to Your Social Media When You Die?’ By Catherine Hodder, Esq.


When Odysseus became the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon in over 50 years, many people posted on social media about the accomplishment – even Starman and superstar David Bowie.

But wait! Isn’t David Bowie dead? Yes. He died in 2016. However, his official Facebook account, David Bowie, posted news of the space mission, bringing his name to the moon as part of an art installation.

Social Media Can Be Passed By Will

Celebrities like David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Prince, and Michael Jackson can leave their social media accounts to their agents or management companies so their social presence can continue even when they are long gone. Most often, it is to promote their legacy, pay tributes to anniversaries, and detail special projects that involve their work.

But you don’t have to be a celebrity. You can leave your online accounts to whomever you want. Most states have a Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), a set of rules for who can take care of a deceased user’s digital assets, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. In your will, you can designate your personal representative to handle your social media and other digital assets. They then have the authority to close accounts, post a final message, or continue your accounts.

To Keep Your Accounts Going

If you want someone to take over and manage your accounts, you must give them the necessary information to gain access. The information may include usernames, passwords, and other login details. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn have their own policies for handling accounts after a deceased person’s death. Review these policies to understand what options are available.

To Close Your Accounts

However, you may want your social accounts and digital footprint shut down. You can have someone memorialize your account, such as a Facebook page. Your close friends can then add tribute posts to your page. Every social media platform has a way of dealing with your social media after you die. Check the policy of each social media platform for their policies on handling your accounts. The procedures for the most popular social media platforms are below.

  • Facebook. You can pick a legacy contact while you’re alive. When you pass, they can manage your account and turn it into a memorial page where friends can share memories. Your legacy contact must show proof of death with a copy of the death certificate.
  • Instagram. Like Facebook, your personal representative must provide proof of your death to deactivate or memorialize the account.
  • Twitter and LinkedIn. They will also need proof, like a death certificate and legal documents, before allowing someone to close or change the account.
  • Google and Apple. These companies let you plan for your account after your death. Google has an Inactive Account Manager, and Apple lets you choose a Legacy Contact who gets a key to access your account.

It is Important to Communicate Your Wishes

Include instructions in your estate plan detailing how you want your personal representative to handle your social media and digital legacy – continue it, create a memorialized account, or deactivate or delete it. The best place is in your last will and testament. Let your family members and loved ones know your preferences for your social media presence after you’re gone.

This article is written by Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Legally reviewed by Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated on February 27, 2024. Article was first published by FindLaw.com.