Shutting down a Facebook Account

As at 2012, 30 million people who maintained Facebook accounts have died, according to a report from the Huffington Post.

So what happens to all those profiles that are no longer maintained by their owners?

Their account can go one of four ways:

  • The profile remains untouched, unreported and open to wall posts, photo tags, status mentions and Facebook ads.
  • A family member or close friend may choose to report a death to Facebook. Upon receipt of proof of death, Facebook will switch the dead user’s timeline to a “memorial page.”
  • A close family member may request Facebook to deactivate the account.
  • Users may gain access to the dead user’s profile through knowledge of the dead user’s password

Until early 2015, Facebook’s official policy for handling user deaths was the memorial page. More recently Facebook have updated their policy and now provide three options for dealing with a deceased persons account.

Option 1: Memorializing Your Account

If you choose to memorialize the account, Facebook will leave most of the content online.

They will make changes so that no one is allowed to login and you wont be able to change content or add and remove friends. When an account is memorialized, only confirmed friends can see the timeline or locate it in the search bar. The timeline will no longer appear in the suggestions section of the home page, and only friends and family can leave posts on the profile in remembrance.

While Facebook allows verified relatives to memorialize the account, they can only see information that the deceased had chosen to share with them before they died. Facebook has stated that it would not be appropriate to enable them to download that person’s private messages once they are deceased because no permission had been given.

You can apply to have a page memorialized by clicking here.

Option 2: Legacy Contact

At the start of 2015, Facebook announced a policy that allows you to designate a “legacy contact”, who’ll be allowed to “pin a post on your Timeline” after your death, such as a funeral announcement.

The contact won’t be able to log in or read private messages, but will be allowed to respond to new friend requests, update your cover and profile photos, archive your Facebook posts and photos.

The “legacy contact” policy was established after families of the deceased had told Facebook they wanted to download and preserve the user’s photos and also post funeral announcements or other news. “By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death,” Facebook said in a statement.

Unfortunately the legacy contact has to be confirmed by the owner of the account before they die – and the reality is that most people don’t know this feature exists.

If you are thinking about doing this for your own account, Go to the Security option, and click on Legacy Contact, where you will be able to select one of your Facebook friends. You will also be given the option to send them a pre-written message (which you can edit) that provides information about the policy. The contact will be notified only when your death has been reported to Facebook, and your account is memorialized.

Option 3: Deletion

Another way in which your account can be managed is to have it completely removed. Once again, Facebook requires verification that you are an immediate family member or executor. Any requests to delete the profile will not be processed if they are unable to verify your relationship to the deceased.

This option will completely delete the timeline and all associated content from Facebook for good, so no one can view it. All pictures and posts originating from the profile in question will be removed.

You can submit a request by clicking here

Option 4: WishesKept

Most people have multiple social media account and online services. The most common ones include Gmail and Hotmail/Outlook, messaging services such as WhatsApp and Skype, and shopping services such as Amazon and eBay. There are many others, including Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Dropbox, NetFlix and Spotify. PCs and smartphones may also be protected with passwords.

It would take a lot of time to deal with all of these accounts individually, especially as most of them don’t seem to have established processes like Facebook.

The last thing you want to experience when some one passes away is spend the day filling out forms, figuring out who to contact, dealing with bureaucracy, and figuring out how to comply with terms and conditions to allow access to the deceased persons accounts.

With a little bit of pre-planning, and the use of a WishesKept account, you can safely store a copy of your important login and password details in a highly secure vault. The information can only be accessed when you are gone, and the data is fully encrypted until it is needed. While WishesKept requires confirmation of your passing from multiple trusted sources (which you select in advance), the ability to provide your loved ones with login and password details for all of your accounts at once will make it significantly easier to shutdown your profiles if the need arises.

Once you have the login and password details for Facebook, the process of shutting down the account is very simple.

Before you start the process, make sure you are logged into the account you wish to delete

Download your data

Before you delete your Facebook account, you may want to download your info first.

Step 1: Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings

Step 2: At the bottom of the screen, click Download a copy of your Facebook data

Step 3: Click Start My Archive. You will be asked to enter your Facebook password

Once you’ve completed the process, Facebook will email you your archive when it is ready.

Delete your Facebook account (forever)

Important : This will delete your Facebook page forever. If you carry out these steps, it cannot be recovered.

Before you start the process, make sure you are logged into the account you wish to delete

Step 1: Go to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account

Step 2: Read the information provided, and then click Delete my account

Step 3: Complete the verifications required, and then click OK

And that’s it! You’ve deleted your Facebook account (forever!)