Having a Facebook Account Deleted after a Passing

Nowadays, an even greater part of our lives “happens” online, especially on our accounts on social media. Indeed, those are a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, to share our small and bigger daily adventures or to show our best profile. All those accounts, as well as all the elements that we “leave” on the internet are part of what we call our “digital heritage” (that we also need to manage). In the case of a Facebook account, the world’s biggest social network, what happens when a user passes away? What happens with the account and how to have it deleted? 

Deleted or memorialised account?

When a user dies, Facebook offers two options: having the account permanently deleted or having it turned into a memorialised account.

Facebook will never give a user's login and password to anyone, even if the user passed away. Therefore, unless your relative had given you his login prior to his death, you will not be able to "use" his account.

A memorialised account

When Facebook becomes aware of a user’s decease, it will turn the account into a “memorialised account”. It means that the account still exists and that the pictures and posts remain visible. Nonetheless, the word “Remembering” will be shown next to the person’s name. Furthermore, the account will not appear in the “birthday” nor in the “People you may know” sections. However, other users are still allowed, depending on the privacy settings of the account, to post a message or a picture ont the user’s account as a memory. 


Deleting the account

If the user’s account is deleted, all his information, pictures, posts as well as his messages and comments under other users’ posts will be deleted directly and permanently.


Who makes the decision: the user or the relatives?

Both are possible! Either the user had anticipated the decision and had informed Facebook of his choice, or, if not, the deceased’s relatives may contact Facebook directly.


The user decides

If the user has already thought about the issue, he may inform Facebook directly:

  • If he wants his account to be deleted after his passing, he may go to Settings and then choose Request that your account be deleted after you pass away;
  • If he wants his account to me memorialised, the easiest way to proceed is to choose a legacy contact, who will be able to manage the account (he will be allowed to write a last post on your behalf, to manage the posts on your wall, to remove tags etc. but not to read your messages or to delete friends). In order to do so, the user has to go to his Settings, then click on Memorialisation Settings and add a friend as legacy contact. Of course, this person can be removed anytime. 


The relatives manage the account

If the decease had not planned anything regarding his Facebook account, his relatives can always ask Facebook to delete the account or to turn it into a memorialised account. To do so, they need to send a request to Facebook with:

  • A copy of the death certificate (or an obituary);
  • A document attesting that you are a family member or a testamentary executor (a proxy, a will, a birth certificate...) 


To conclude

Just like any other aspect of your life, your social media accounts belong to your “heritage”. Therefore, it is useful to think about what we want for them in case of a passing: to have them deleted or to remain as a place for your loved ones to gather memories? In any case, you can always ask the Morning Blue team for advice on how to manage your Facebook account (and your digital heritage as a whole). Do not hesitate to contact us.