Digital Afterlife: Here’s what happens to users’ Facebook, WhatsApp and other accounts after they die

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Facebook offers several options to manage users’ accounts after their death. One obvious option is to delete the account permanently. Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Facebook. This means all your photos, messages, posts and comments will be deleted from Facebook.

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Another option is to Memorialise the account. Memorialised accounts are a place for friends and family to gather and share memories after a person has passed away. Memorialised accounts have the word ‘Remembering’ shown next to the person’s name on their profile. Depending on the privacy settings of the account, friends can share memories on the memorialised timeline. Content that the person shared (e.g. photos, posts) stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with. Memorialised profiles don’t appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People you may know, ads or birthday reminders. No one can log in to a memorialised account. Memorialised accounts that don’t have a legacy contact can’t be changed. As per Facebook policy, the company memorialises an account for someone if a family member or close friend informs them about the user’s demise.

Facebook also allows users to add a legacy contact to their account. In case a legacy contact is added, then the legacy contact can make necessary changes to the account.

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