Forrestall Consulting
"Finding the HUMANity in Social Media & Marketing"
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A series of blogs by  Shanna Forrestall of Forrestall Consulting.  #sms4u #dontbeamonkey

Ensuring Your Social Media Lives On

Although a flurry of social media activity is happening around the globe daily, one important question may still not be answered for most users.

What happens to my social media when I’m gone?

With just a few minutes of preparation you can ensure that your family or key loved ones have access to your photos, videos and social media “legacy” when you pass away.

Each social media outlet has their own unique guidelines for setting up beneficiaries for your content, so be sure to address each one individually.


Google offers an “Inactive Account Manager” that can be found on its “Account Settings” page.  This useful function allows you to have your data deleted after 3,6, 9 or 12 months of inactivity or you can select different people to receive content from different Google services.

For example, you can send your Gmail to one person and your Picasa Web Albums to someone else.  And they also have a useful function set up to guard against hacking.  They will warn you with a text message and email (to your secondary email address) before their systems take any action.

If you are inactive for the chosen predetermined amount of time, and you do not stop the activation after a text/email alert, your appointed Account Manager will be sent access to a link to download your information along with a customized email that you provide at setup.


Facebook has a “Legacy Contact” tool found under “Security Settings.”  This useful tool allows you to designate someone (a Facebook account holder) to “memorialize” your account in 3 ways.

  1. They can write a pinned post for your profile to share a final message on your behalf, or provide information about a funeral or memorial service.
  2. They can respond to new friend requests
  3. They can update your profile picture and cover photo.

Although your Legacy Contact has limited access to your account, they still can’t log in to your account, read your messages, or delete anything posted to your Timeline.  And Facebook does not currently have a feature to purge inactive accounts.


Twitter will work with the person holding Power of Attorney to have the account deactivated when a Death Certificate is provided, but they will not provide the person holding POA with access to the actual account.


Instagram offers the possibility to “memorialize” or “delete” an account when a death certificate is provided.


LinkedIn does not currently have any available options to “memorialize” or “delete” accounts, so be sure someone has your password (although that may be illegal according to LinkedIn guidelines).


The best way to ensure that someone has access to your personal social media data is to modify your Power of Attorney to “specifically give access to digital assets” and to explicitly state that the person with Power of Attorney rights has the ability to “access, delete, or distribute” those assets.

You can also ensure that someone you trust has the ability to retrieve all of your passwords, to keep access simple and stress free when something unexpected happens.


  • Social media outlets change their settings regularly, so please refer to the appropriate outlet for the most update to date information on this subject.