Although none of us will get out of this alive, internet-life after death is a topic most people haven’t given a thought to. Not death, but what happens to e-mail and social media accounts when death do us part.
I had not, even though I’m old enough to start thinking about putting my affairs in order. I merely assumed that when I die, my email and internet accounts would disappear as if by magic, and I didn’t need to to do anything about it or leave instructions.
To do? Holy cow. Can’t a person just die unexpectedly anymore? These days it takes nearly five years of preparation to be ready to make the final “move.” But it doesn’t hurt to be aware.
The fact is, since the advent of computers and the internet, people are creating large amounts of digital content, including sensitive and/or personal information, such a social media profiles and financial information, which could remain online after death. There are many platforms for sharing this information with the numerous social networks. There are also circumstances where the content online may belong to the service provider and not to the deceased.
Worry? Probably not. Be informed and make a conscious decision? Definitely!
First, in today’s world, if you do not have a presence on the internet, you don’t exist and never have existed. Second, remember that you have already agreed to what will happen to your content on email and social media.
Oh, you don’t remember that? If you have an account, you signed off on the provider’s Terms of Service when you created it. Ah! You didn’t read that, did you? At least, not all the way through. Most people don’t. The type is small and the legalize is tedious. You think, Umpteen million other people have agreed so it can’t be bad, and you click the box. So be it.
In the Terms of Service, most major providers, such as Facebook and Twitter, state the policies and procedures regarding what happens when someone with an account dies. Smaller organizations may not address this.
But don’t fret. Most Terms of Service make it clear the provider will never share your account information with anyone other than you.
“If you die, your accounts will most likely stay active unless the site automatically deletes the account due to inactivity, or your family has requested the account to be closed. Most sites allow access to your personal data by your next of kin, but to gain this right, they will need to mail proof to the website.” makeuseof.com/what-happens-to-email
IT IS YOUR DECISION
It is up to you what happens to your material, if you own it. If your internet content includes photographs and music, who owns the material is something you should investigate. Four basic scenarios come to mind:
The best approach is to go to each of your accounts and find out what the provisions are at this point in time. Policies do change, partly due to the decisions in law suits, so seek out the most current information and be alert to changes in the future.
Be particularly careful with accounts where you pay for the service.
POLICIES OF SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR SERVICES
The best way to give you a heads up is to summarize the current policies of the some of the most popular email and social media sites. Some services offer memorialization, some suggest appointing an account manager or “legacy contact.”
Any real problems will be accounts which involve fees, issues of ownership of content (music and photograph as the most likely), and access by others than the owner of the account. It is also possible that family members want photos removed from Google Search. Don’t panic! Only the services you use should be of interest.
23snaps is described as a mini-Facebook that lets users create profiles for each of their children and post status updates along with both photos and videos.
Terms Of Service
Their Terms of Service do not address what happens when an account holder is deceased, but the general provisions promise they will never share account holder’s personal information, photos, etc. without consent. Although there is a process for deleting an account, there is not specific information regarding what happens to the content.
Contact for all Queries: Address to: mailto:email@example.com.
An Apple ID is the account used to access Apple services like the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, iMessage and more. You can sign in to all Apple services with a single Apple ID
When you create an account with Apple and sign their terms of agreement, you have agreed that “your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your account terminate upon your death. Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate your Account may be terminated and all Content within your Account deleted."
“Content” means any information that may be generated or encountered through use of the Service, such as data files, device characteristics, written text, software, music, graphics, photographs, images, sounds, videos, messages and any other like materials.
There is no automated process for closing an Apple ID, therefore you must contact Apple support. They will require a copy of the death certificate of the current account holder, then review your request.
Contact to Deactivate Account: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208503
Contact to Delete Account: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208504
Terms of Service: http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/us/terms.html
Note: Once the account is closed, use of purchased apps and media can no longer be played, even on other devices that have been authorized.
An early Internet pioneer providing many Internet services in the 1990's including dial-up Internet access, email and instant messaging. AOL was purchased in 2015 by Verizon. It is now a mass media corporation.
Terms Of Service
The TOS, last updated in 2017, had no references to how the account of a deceased subscriber is handled, although the term legacy is used in the URL. https://legal.aol.com/legacy/terms-of-service/full-terms/index.html
According to Evernet, the self proclaimed web's leading resource for planning and organizing your life, the following is the way to handle the account. https://www.everplans.com/articles/how-to-close-an-aol-account-when-someone-dies
How To Cancel An Account
“There are two levels of membership offered by AOL—free accounts and paid accounts. If you have a paid account, you must first convert to a free account, then cancel that.
In the unfortunate event of a death of the billing contact for an AOL account, ownership can easily be transferred to another AOL Username already listed under the account.
The billing contact's name appears on the credit card used for the AOL account. You can change the payment information online through My Account if you have the deceased master Username, Password and Account Security Question. If you don't know this information, please click the Contact AOL Customer Service link to the right of this page for more information on contacting AOL Customer Support Team.
Note: If you don't own a Username on the AOL account and would like to make changes to the account, please contact one of our AOL Customer Support Team Representatives at 1-800-827-6364.”
Drop Box is a service for storing and sharing photos, documents, and other files from any device. Every 12 months Dropbox identifies inactive accounts by examining sign-ins, file shares, and file activity. If determined inactive, the files on the account are deleted.
You retain ownership of anything downloaded to Dropbox. The service provide features like commenting, sharing, searching, image thumbnails, document previews, optical character recognition (OCR), easy sorting and organization, and personalization to help reduce busywork. To provide these and other features, Dropbox accesses, stores, and scans your materials. The account owner has given permission to do those things, and this permission extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with.
To access account of someone deceased, contact: https://help.dropbox.com/accounts-billing/settings-sign-in/access-account-of-someone-who-passed-away
Deletion of Account
This site gives instructions on how to delete the account, but required access to user name and pass word. https://www.everplans.com/articles/how-to-close-a-dropbox-account-when-someone-dies
Terms of Service: https://www.dropbox.com/terms
The Facebook products include Facebook (mobile app and in-app browser), Messenger, Instagram (including apps like Direct and Boomerang), Portal-branded devices, Bonfire, Facebook Mentions, Face-
book Shops, Spark AR Studio, Audience Network, NPE Team apps and other features.
[FYI: If Facebook continues to exist throughout the 21st century, the Oxford Internet Institute predicts that the number of deceased people on this social site could reach 4.9 billion. That’s a big graveyard.]
Facebook will not give anyone access to Facebook login information or materials, but does provide three options.
● A family member or friend of the deceased can request Facebook to memoralize the user’s page to a tribute page with minimal personal details, allowing friends and family to express their condolences, sorrow, and share memories.
● The account holder, when alive, can appoint a "legacy contact" with the rights to manage their page after death.
● Facebook also gives users the option to delete when they pass away.
Contact To Report Deceased Account Holder/ Request Memorialization:
Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting service, as well as an online community, which is popular with hosting high resolution photos by amateur and professional photographers.
Flickr offers “in memoriam” accounts to existing Flickr members who have passed away. In memoriam accounts preserve all public content in a deceased member’s account, even if their Pro subscription lapses. The account’s username will be updated to reflect the “in memoriam” status and login for the account will be locked to prevent anyone from signing in.
Contact To Request In Memorian: https://smugform.wufoo.com/forms/flickr-in-memoriam-account-request/
Contact To Access Account: https://help.flickr.com/contact
Google offers a variety of services and tools besides its basic web search, including Web email, Calendar software, Cloud storage, word processing, photo-editing, and a wide variety of other services
The content remains the property of the account holder, which means retention of any intellectual property rights to the content, and the license is non-exclusive, which means you share the same content with others.
Your Google account may have active credit or financial information, photos, phone numbers, and other information you may want to keep private or to share. Google has a simple service that lets you decide what happens to everything about you the company has once your account becomes inactive: an Inactive Account Manager. Contact to set up an Inactive Account Manager: https://myaccount.google.com/inactive.
Contact To Submit a Request Re: Deceased Person’s Account:
Contact To Close or Obtain Data From A Deceased User’s Account:
Terms of Service: https://policies.google.com/terms?hl=en-US
Note: G-mail accounts of the deceased to be accessed provided certain requirements are met.
Hotmail is one of the most popular free online email services, provided by Microsoft. It is a Webmail service and users access it from any web browser anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Access To Deceased’s Account
Hot Mail allows accounts of the deceased to be accessed provided certain requirements are met.
If you want someone to access to your hotmail account after you die, leave instructions about 1) how to log in to the account and 2) what to do with it. Using Microsoft’s “Next of Kin” process, survivors can receive a DVD that contains all of the data held in the hotmail account including all emails and their attachments, address book, and Messenger contact list. The “Next of Kin” policies apply also to executors, personal representatives, and custodians, with proof of legal status as account holder’s representative.
f you don’t want to give your family access, you’d better leave instructions for Microsoft before you shuffle off this mortal coil.
Contact For Account Access Or Closure: Send Email to: Microsoft Custodian of Records, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Instagram is a free, online photo-sharing application and social network platform that was acquired by Facebook. Instagram allows users to edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app.
Instagram offers a memorialization option as does its parent company Facebook. A request to memorialize a deceased person’s account can be requested by anyone; i.e. not just a family member. The proof of death can be as simple as an obituary from the newspaper.
A memorialized account appears the same as an account of a living user; nothing is deleted and privacy setting cannot be changed.
An immediate family member of the deceased can request the Instagram account be removed through Instagram’s “Help Center.” You will need to provide verification that you are an immediate family member when submitting this request with a birth certificate of the deceased, the death certificate of the deceased, or proof that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person or their estate.
LinkedIn is a social network that focuses on professional networking and career development. You can use LinkedIn to display your resume, search for jobs, and enhance your professional reputation by posting updates and interacting with other people.
A LinkedIn account will remain active until the owner chooses to delete it or someone reports that owner is deceased. Because LinkedIn does not have a policy to delete inactive accounts, an account may remain active long after death. Viewers will still see the profile.
To remove an account, there is a form to fill out which requires the following information: 1) member's name; 2) URL to their LinkedIn profile; 3) relationship to deceased; Member's email address; 4) Date of their passing; 5) Link to obituary; 6) Most recent company of employment.
Contact to Remove Account: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/2842/deceased-linkedin-member?lang=en
Terms of Service: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user=agreement
Microsoft products include operating systems for personal computers ("PCs"), servers, phones, and other intelligent devices; server applications for distributed computing environments; productivity applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; etc.
Many of Microsoft Services allow account holder to store or share Content or receive material from others. Account holder retains ownership of the Content. To the extent necessary , the account holder grants to Microsoft a worldwide and royalty-free intellectual property license to use Your Content, for example, to make copies of, retain, transmit, reformat, display, and distribute via communication tools.
When an account holder dies or becomes incapacitated, it is not necessary to contact Microsoft. If the next of kin or friend knows the account credentials (type of account, Email address, and password) that person can close the account. If the account isn't closed, however, it will be cloased automatically after two (2) years of inactivity.
According to support.microsoft.com “Ensure that any subscriptions to Microsoft are cancelled. You may stop any subscriptions to Microsoft by closing the customer’s bank account or credit card, revoke authorizations or informing the bank. Outlook.com and OneDrive accounts will be frozen after 1 year and any email messages and files stored on OneDrive will be deleted shortly after. Microsoft accounts expire after two (2) years of inactivity. For more information, read section 4 of the Microsoft Services Agreement.”
Contact to Close Account: https://support.microsoft.com/help/12412/
A closed account can be reopened within 60 days simply by signing again but it requires having access to the account. After 60 days, Microsoft will permanently delete the account and all it contains.
Terms of Service: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/servicesagreement
Once the biggest social networking site on the Internet, myspace has pivoted into a music discovery and playback service.
MySpace can use or edit your content, and use it within their services, but has no ownership rights to content posted (text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials).
By displaying or posting any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to MySpace a limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on or through the MySpace Services.
Content marked "private" will not be distributed outside the MySpace Website. After you remove your Content from the MySpace Website we will cease distribution as soon as practicable, and at such time when distribution ceases,
MySpace does not offer an option to temporarily disable an account nor do their TOS address what happens to the account when the owner is deceased.
Deletion appears to be the only action and is permanent and final. To delete, you need the account Email address and password, then log in via a desktop computer at the Myspace homepage.
Contact To Close Account: https://help.myspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/202241380-Delete-your-Profile
Contact to Remove Photos from Google Search: https://help.myspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/202086574-How-Do-I-Remove-Images-Appearing-In-Google-Search-ro
Terms of Service (Dashboard/ Social networking): https://wiki.uiowa.edu/display/SocNet/MySpace+Terms+of+Use
Pinterest is an image-based social platform for saving, organizing and sharing ideas found online.
If you post content on Pinterest, it still belongs to you, but Pinterest can show it to other people and
others can save it.
To delete the account of a deceased person, Email email@example.com with the following information:
▪Your full name
▪ The full name and email address on this person’s account
▪A link to their Pinterest account (ex: pinterest.com/USERNAME). If you don’t know this, try searching for it on https://pinterest.com/all/
▪ Documentation of their passing (ex: death certificate, obituary, news article)
▪ Your relationship to the person with documentation to verify it, such as a birth or marriage certificate, Public mention of relation, Family tree, Family/household records, Notarized proof of relation. If your name is included in the obituary, that's sufficient
Once deleted, the account will no longer be accessible. However, the Terms of Service you signed states that if you choose to post content, you give us permission to use it to provide and improve Pinterest. Copies of content shared with others may remain even after you delete the content from your account.
Note: If the Pinterest account is connected to a Google, Facebook, or Twitter account then you should deactivate the Pinterest account before deleting the Google/Facebook/Twitter account.
Terms of Service: https://policy.pinterest.com/en/terms-of-service
Snap Inc. is a camera company. Our products and services—including Snapchat, Bitmoji, Spectacles, advertising, and others that link to the company.
Many of Snapchat services let you create, upload, post, send, receive, and store content. When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with. But you grant us a license to use that content. How broad that license is depends on which Services used.
Snapchat has no discernable process for dealing with a deceased person’s account. Leaving your access information (username and password) to your survivors is the only way to be sure they have access to your account.
If you want to keep your account private, you can:
▪ Delete the account before you die
▪ Leave access information to someone you trust with instructions to delete the account. Be aware that when deleted, there is an unknown period of lag time before content is taken off Snapchat’s servers.
Terms of Service: https://www.snap.com/en-US/terms
Tumblr is not just a blog platform, but rather a social network that includes a blogging platform. Tumblr makes it easy for a company to share their content with millions of users, so you can reach a large audience without spending a lot of time or money.
You retain ownership you have of any intellectual property you post to Tumblr, but you have given permission to Tumbler to make your content available in all the ways you would expect us to (for example, via your blog, RSS, the Tumblr Dashboard, etc.).
You can request that a Tumblr account be terminated on behalf of someone who’s died. If you've got log-in info already, you can use the process for any account, but most people need Tumblr admin to get help. Go to: https://www.tumblr.com/support and complete the form to contact them with the Tumblr URL or username used by deceased. Include your request that they take the Tumblr page down and delete it, along with evidence that your loved one has passed away, like an obituary.
Your best choice from the dropdown menu of topics is probably “Something else.” They have an attachment option if you want to upload the death certificate or a scan of the obituary. Including this information may be overkill, but in some cases, it can expedite the process.
Deleting a Tumblr account from an iPhone or Android app isn’t possible. You must delete the account in a browser, then uninstall the app from your phone once your blog is gone.
Terms of Service: https://www.tumblr.com/policy/en/terms-of-service
Twitter, Inc. offers products and services for users, advertisers, developers and data partners. The Company's services include Twitter, Periscope, Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. Its Twitter is a platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time.
The account of an expired person remains active until a relative or friend gets in touch with the company. Then the only option is account deactivation. Previously published content is not removed. To deactivate an account Twitter requires an immediate family member to present a copy of their ID and a death certificate of the deceased.
Twitter does not provide account access to anyone, but does allow people having account login information to continue posting.
Terms of Service: http://twitter.com/en/tos
Weebly is a web-based service used to create websites for businesses and otherwise.
Weebly does not automatically delete inactive free sites. They'll stay on your shelf for as long as you want.
If the domain name is paid for through another service, perhaps failure to renew could result in deletion by Weebly but there is no information about this.
With the information to access the account, the website can be deleted, so login information (Username and Password) needs to be available to family or friend.
▪ Log into the account.
▪Click the account holder’s name in the upper right corner and click “Account” in the dropdown menu
▪Click the red “Permanently delete your Weebly account” button
▪You'll be asked to confirm; you can leave a reason for leaving but it’s not required.
Wikipedia is the English-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
No one "owns" content (including articles or any page at Wikipedia). If you create or edit an article, others can make changes, and you cannot prevent them from doing so. Believing that an article has an owner of this sort is a common mistake people make on Wikipedia. Once you have posted it to Wikipedia, you cannot stop anyone from editing text you have written. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ownership_of_content
While this statement doesn’t address ownership after death, it is clear that ownership belongs to Wikipedia.
Yahoo! Inc., global Internet services provider is owned by Verizon Communications since 2017. The main service provided by include its web portal and search engine.
When the account holder agrees to the Terms of Service, Yahoo states that neither the Yahoo account nor any of the content therein are transferable, even when the account owner is deceased. Yahoo cannot provide passwords or allow access to the deceased's accounts.
Contact For Closing Account of Deceased Person: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/SLN2021.html
Terms Of Service: https://www.verizonmedia.com/policies/us/en/verizonmedia/terms/otos/index.html
"Ownership and Reuse. Using the Services does not give you ownership of any intellectual or other property rights or interests in the Services or the content you access.
You must not use any branding or logos used in the Services unless we have given you separate explicit written permission. You may not remove, obscure, or alter any legal notices displayed in or along with the Services. Unless you have explicit written permission, you must not reproduce, modify, rent, lease, sell, trade, distribute, transmit, broadcast, publicly perform, create derivative works based on, or exploit for any commercial purposes, any portion or use of, or access to, the Services (including content, advertisements, APIs, and software)."
Terms Of Service: https://policies.yahoo.com/us/en/yahoo/terms/index.htm
YouTube is an online video-sharing platform, now a Subsidiary of Google. YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to playlists, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos.
When you upload Content to YouTube, you still own the content, but have given up certain things to YouTube in exchange for the use of their platform. When you upload your content to YouTube, you are granting them a “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service” and even the right to create “derivative works” from your content, which means that they can slice and dice it and make new content from it.
You’re also granting other users of YouTube the right to “to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service.” The license is perpetual and irrevocable, and they can keep copies of everything you upload forever on their servers, even if you delete it. It’s there forever.
Oh, and no selling ads on the YouTube videos that you upload. Only YouTube gets to do that.
Terms of service: https://www.youtube.com/static?template=terms
I know it looks like onerous busy-work, or at least something you can do later, but I believe everyone should take a look at the provisions for the services they use and seriously consider what they want done with their content.
▼This is for online accounts/ importantt information.