As I was talking “wall-to-wall” about suvivorship planning on my Facebook page, it occurred to me that people don’t really think about their identities in the social networks or email accounts that will live on forever past their death if not managed  by their survivors.    Thus, the subject of this article came to mind – a reminder to leave instructions for your family on what to do with your online presence.   This means an account on My Space, Facebook, Linked In, etc.

I checked into specifics on the options a family has when a loved one dies with an “e-presence” out in cyberspace.               Here is a short list of the most common websites and how they handle accounts of people who have died.

Facebook
Facebook gives you a couple of options.     You can close the account or turn the account into a memorial where friends and family can leave notes or comments about the person.   Privacy is set to friends and family only and the profile become unsearchable, all personal sensitive information is stripped out of the profile and it prevents anyone from ever logging into it again.    To  create a memorial, you have to fill out their online form and submit a proof of death such as an obituary or news article about the person proving that they are, in fact, dead.    The link to the Facebook form to do this.    http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=deceased       or contact them directly to close the account (also submitting the appropriate proof of death.

If you come across a person on Linked-in who is deceased or if you have a family member who is deceased, you will need to notify Customer Service that the Profile still exists and may need to be removed. They request that you provide any important information about the deceased member that will help their Privacy Department in in investigating and acting on the account accordingly. Items to provide in your email would be one or two of the following:

  1. An Obituary Link
  2. A Death Notice
  3. Consular Report of Death
  4. Death Certificate

Per GOOGLE’s WEBSITE you have to submit via fax or email a list of required documents to get access to the account.     I found information on what to do on their website –

http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=14300 .

I have read where FLICKR(a photo sharing website) keeps the sites open but prevents any kind of access to photos marked Private.      They are owned by Yahoo now, and I was unable to find the issue addressed anywhere on their website.    The information was difficult to find, so you would have to contact them directly.

MY SPACE  gives you a couple of options also.   You can submit a request along with the required information to remove the profile or you can create a group profile (memorial) and link it to the deceased persons profile.      I found information at this location.     http://faq.myspace.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/369/kw/deceased%20person/r_id/100061

These are just a few of the most common websites where you may hold a membership.   If you have a business or a personal website, you also want to be sure and record who your host is and how to contact them in case of your death.       Online presence can last for years and maybe indefinitely, so this is just one more thing to include in your survivorship plan.   Let your family know where your footprints are in cyberspace to manage your presence responsibly.