Worldwide, there were over 2 billion monthly active Facebook users in June of 2017. The world population is roughly 7.5 billion, which means more than 25% of us are using our Facebook profiles at least monthly. With such a large user base, it makes one wonder what happens to our Facebook profiles when we die?
The short answer is nothing. Unless Facebook is explicitly notified that a death has occurred, your profile will live on forever. If a request to remove or memorialize a decedent's Facebook account is not made, it can present the risk of unauthorized access, and can also create a false sense of life behind a decedent's profile, which can be misleading and emotional.
So what are the options for handling a deceased person's Facebook profile? Removal or memorialization. Removing a decedent’s social media profile means permanently deleting their account, which cannot be undone or recovered. Memorializing a decedent’s social media profile means the account will serve as a place for friends and family to share memories after a person has passed away, and offers security by preventing anyone from logging into the account.
Facebook has dedicated an entire FAQ on their Help Center that addresses common questions related to memorialized accounts, which can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/help/1506822589577997/. The key take away is that when a Facebook profile is memorialized, the word "Remembering" appears next to their name, and their profile no longer shows up in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders.
Facebook and Instagram are the only two social media networks that allow the option to memorialize an account as of the date of this blog post. They are clearly thinking ahead, and are making plans for online life after death. If and when the other social networks introduce a memorialization option, we will write a blog post on it and update our service offering accordingly. If you know a story about a memorialized social media account, please share with our community in the comments section below!