Managing Social Media After a Loved One Passes

Losing a loved one is the most difficult experience many of us will ever face. It is common to want to digitally disconnect while grieving, but it is important not to neglect social media entirely; your personal profiles as well as the profiles of the recently deceased require attention.

First things first: take a moment

You may feel the urge to post something on social media immediately after your loved one has passed. However before announcing the death online, be sure to call or email immediate family and close friends. You can assign this task to someone else, but for those closest to the deceased it is not ideal to learn about their friend or family member’s death via social media.

Stick to the details and avoid the trolls

Emotions are high following the death of a loved one, and you may be inclined to post something dramatic, or assign blame. Use your post to provide factual details, including the date and time of the funeral. Sadly any social media post — even those surrounding a death — can attract negative attention. The best advice is to simply delete these comments and block the user from being able to comment again. Do not engage. After some time has passed you will need to decide what to do with the various social media profiles of the deceased.

Managing Facebook

Every Facebook user has the power to choose what will happen to their profile after they pass. You can let Facebook know that — in the event of your death — you either want your profile to either be removed, or memorialized. If you would like your Facebook page to be memorialized, it is strongly recommended you assign a Legacy Contact who can manage your page after you die.

If your loved one did not make their wishes known to Facebook, you have the same two options: removal or memorialization. You will need to provide proof of their passing (such as an obituary, death certificate, etc.) Additionally, you can use your own Facebook profile to create a group in their memory and filter your “On This Day” preferences.

Remove the page: If you remove your loved one’s Facebook page, it will be permanently deleted from the website. This means that you won’t be able to reactivate it at a later date. If you decide to remove the profile of a loved one, you may want to go through the page and see if there are any pictures or posts that you would like to save before taking down.

Memorialize their page: If you choose to memorialize a page, Facebook will change the title to “Remembering” (that person’s name). Memorialized accounts are a lot like regular accounts. Depending on the user’s privacy settings, you will still be able to post on their timeline, tag them in photos and videos, and see messages that you’ve shared. Memorialized accounts don’t appear in ads, suggested friends or birthday reminders.

Create a group: If the Facebook page is removed, either by the owner’s wishes or at the request of their family or friends, you still have the option to memorialize that person on Facebook by creating a group in their memory.

On This Day feature: Deleting your loved one’s Facebook account won’t remove every trace or memory of that person from Facebook. Any photos posted by you will remain up, and they might potentially pop up as a result of the “On This Day” feature. To prevent yourself from being reminded by Facebook of these painful memories, you can block a person or a date from showing up in this feature. If you would prefer not to be reminded of the day of their passing, or of specific memories of that person, you can block them by going to Memories -> Preferences.

Other social media

Instagram: Similar to Facebook, accounts of deceased users will either be memorialized or deleted. Instagram will memorialize an account when they are notified of a user’s death. A verified family member can request the removal of the account here.

Twitter: If you would like to deactivate the account of a deceased family member, you can request that removal here.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn will remove profiles from their platform when they are made aware of a death, and the request can be initiated by friends, family members, classmates, or colleagues by filling out this form.

Read The Holidays Without You by Michelle PA.