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Digital Remains

By Military OneSource
Sept. 1, 20229 Minutes

After death, our internet activity ─ commonly referred to as digital remains ─ should be treated with the same care and respect as physical remains. In this podcast, Bruce Moody speaks with Lisa Valentine, program manager for casualty, mortuary affairs and military funeral honors, about the issues presented by the online footprint we leave behind when we die.

They discuss the importance of survivors preserving the content left behind on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, protecting those accounts from hackers and the steps to take to make sure they are in control of their loved one’s digital as well as physical remains.

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Military OneSource Podcast — Digital Remains
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Find the “Plan Ahead: Manage Your Digital Remains” flyer. 

It’s important to decide what will happen to your social media content when you die. This may include having your accounts deleted or memorialized. You may want to designate someone, such as your executor, to ensure your wishes are carried out and provide them with your account details to make the process as easy as possible. Below are the links to the help centers of some popular social media sites.

  • Facebook: You may request to have your Facebook account deleted or memorialized upon your death by designating a legacy contact, which allows that person to make decisions regarding your content after you die. The Facebook Help Center can provide you with the information you need. Select “Policies and Reporting” or use the search bar: https://www.facebook.com/help/275013292838654/?helpref=hc_fnav.
  • Instagram: Instagram users can arrange for their accounts to be memorialized or removed on that platform, but unlike Facebook (which owns Instagram), no additional content can be added following a user’s death: https://www.facebook.com/help/instagram/264154560391256.
  • LinkedIn: Requests to close or memorialize a LinkedIn account can be made at: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/124752.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest can delete an account provided the person you designate has access to your login information. Go to https://help.pinterest.com/en/article/deactivate-or-close-your-account and follow the instructions.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat support services can assist the person you designate in deleting your account, even if they do not have your account information. But they will need to provide a copy of your death certificate and other information to Snapchat support: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/i-need-help?start=5640758388326400.
  • TikTok: The person you designate will need your login information to delete your account. Select the account and privacy settings at: https://support.tiktok.com/en/.
  • Twitter: Twitter does not offer an option for memorializing an account, but does provide information on how to remove one. If the person you designate does not have your account information, Twitter staff can work with them if they provide a copy of your death certificate: https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-family-members-account.
  • WhatsApp: You can arrange to have someone delete your WhatsApp account, or do it yourself at any time by going to the platform’s help center, entering “Delete my account” in the search bar, and following the prompts: https://faq.whatsapp.com/.
  • YouTube: YouTube help services are handled through Google, and the person you designate to delete your account will need your Google account information to sign in. Each YouTube page provides a help option at the top right of the page to make changes to an account. YouTube does not have an option for memorializing accounts.

It is important to remember that in many cases, should no action be taken, your account will likely remain active after you are gone, even if site administrators are aware you have died. By doing so, those sites retain valuable information from your account.

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This episode is part of the Military OneSource Podcast.

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