Accessing social media profiles following a death

The explosion of social media and e-mail use has created a new issue to consider when loved ones pass away – what exactly should you do with their social media profiles? And can you access your loved one’s e-mail accounts?

To assist, Legacy.com has created this guide to accessing social media profiles following a death. If you have access to your loved one’s e-mail account, use the “password reset” links below. That is the quickest and easiest way to gain access to social media profiles. If you do not have access to your loved one’s e-mail account, review the “where to contact/report” and “what you’ll need” sections below.

Facebook  
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=deceased

What you’ll need:

  1. Full name, date of birth, e-mail address and networks associated with the account along with the URL for the profile.
  2. A link to an online obituary (try searching Legacy.com) or news article about your loved one’s death.

What they will do:
Facebook will either remove or memorialize your loved one’s profile at your request. If you choose to memorialize, the privacy will be set so that only existing confirmed friends can search for and see the profile. The wall remains so that friends and family can post condolences, but certain profile information is removed (for example, status updates, contact information and groups) and the person will no longer appear in other users’ “suggestions.” Once an account has been memorialized, it prevents anyone from logging into it in the future.

Twitter
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
E-mail: privacy@twitter.com
Mail: Twitter Inc., c/o: Trust & Safety, 795 Folsom Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94107
Fax: 415-222-9958

What you’ll need:

  1. Your full name, contact information and relationship to the deceased.
  2. The username of the account.
  3. A link to a public obituary (try searching Legacy.com) or news article.

What they will do:
Twitter will remove the account and/or assist you with saving a backup of all of your loved one’s public tweets. Twitter will not provide access to the account or disclose non-public information about the account.

MySpace
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
accountcare@support.myspace.com

What you’ll need:

  1. Only next of kin (mother, father, spouse, legally registered domestic partner, son or daughter) can request. You must indicate your relationship to the deceased.
  2. Obituary (try searching Legacy.com) or death certificate.
  3. The deceased’s MySpace friendID (the string of numbers that appears at the end of the URL when you click on a MySpace profile).

What they will do:
MySpace will delete or preserve the profile, or remove content. If you have access to the e-mail account tied to the MySpace profile, you can use the “Forgot password” link on the homepage to access, edit and delete any content. Otherwise, you will need to ask MySpace to remove content.

LinkedIn
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
Online form
Fax: 402-493-3548
Mail: LinkedIn Corporation, 2029 Stierlin Ct., Mountain View, CA 94043

What you’ll need:

  1. Fill out a “Verification of Death” form found here.
  2. Form must include deceased’s name, e-mail address and most recent employment, as well as your relationship to the deceased.
  3. Submit form online here or via fax or mail.

What they will do:
Close the account.

StumbleUpon
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
http://www.stumbleupon.com/feedback/

What you’ll need:

  1. The deceased’s date of birth and e-mail address.
  2. Proof that you are the executor of the estate.

What they will do:
StumbleUpon will always do their best to assist in these situations, though they must respect the privacy of their users and cannot allow others to access information that the deceased chose to keep private. At the request of the executor, they will deactivate an account.

YouTube
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
Mail: YouTube LLC., Attention: YouTube User Support, 901 Cherry Ave., Second Floor, San Bruno, CA 94066
Fax: 650.872.8513

What you’ll need:

  1. Your full name and contact information, including verifiable e-mail address.
  2. The YouTube account name of the deceased.
  3. A copy of the death certificate.
  4. A copy of the document that gives you Power of Attorney, or a copy of the birth certificate if the deceased was under the age of 18.

What they will do:
Upon verification (a process that takes up to 30 days), YouTube will provide you access to the account.

Google (Blogger, Gmail, Buzz, etc.)
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
Google Inc., Attention: Gmail User Support–Decedents’ Accounts, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

What you’ll need:

  1. Your full name, physical address and verifiable e-mail address
  2. A photocopy of your driver’s license or government-issued ID.
  3. The Gmail address of the individual who passed away.
  4. The full header from an e-mail message that you received at your verifiable e-mail address from the deceased’s e-mail address (to verify that you were in contact with the person), along with the entire contents of the e-mail message.
  5. Proof of death (try searching Legacy.com for an obituary).
  6. Proof that you are the lawful representative if the deceased was 18 or over. If you are the parent and the deceased was under the age of 18, provide a copy of the deceased’s birth certificate.

What they will do:
All accounts will remain online indefinitely unless you request that they be deleted. Once verified (a process that can take up to 30 days), Google will provide you with access to e-mail or delete an account at your request. 

Hotmail
Password reset

Where to contact/report:
Fax: 425-708-0096
Mail: Microsoft Corp., Attn: Online Services Custodian of Records, 1065 La Avenida, Building 4, Mountain View, CA, 94043

What you’ll need:

  1. E-mail msrecord@microsoft.com to request preservation of the account while you prepare documentation (all documentation must be submitted at the same time and cannot be submitted individually).
  2. A copy of the death certificate.
  3. Proof that you are the executor, benefactor and/or that you have Power of Attorney and are next of kin.
  4. A copy of your driver’s license or a government-issued ID.
  5. Account name.
  6. The deceased’s first and last name, date of birth, city, state and ZIP.
  7. Approximate date of account creation and last date of sign-in to the account.
  8. Your physical mailing address.

What they will do:
Hotmail will provide a copy of e-mail messages stored on the account as well as contact lists to facilitate communication.

Yahoo
Password reset

Yahoo will only release account information or provide access to an account under subpoena or court order. Accounts that are inactive for 90 days will be automatically deleted. Here’s a snippet from Yahoo’s Terms of Service:

“No Right of Survivorship and Non-Transferability. You agree that your Yahoo! account is non-transferable and any rights to your Yahoo! ID or contents within your account terminate upon your death. Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate, your account may be terminated and all contents therein permanently deleted.”

Digg
We checked in with the folks at Digg.com, and they reported that this is not an issue for them as they do not require real names with their profiles.

About Legacy.com

Obituaries, Guest Books, Memorial Websites and more. Legacy.com ... Where life stories live on.
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