Deleting a deceased person's social media accounts
Social media services do not automatically get notified after a death of a user. User accounts stay active in the services unless a family member deletes them. Facebook may suggest a deceased person as a friend to friends or remind them of their birthday.
The next of kin usually has the right to delete a deceased person's user account. Social media services require proof of the family relationship and that the owner of the account is dead. Different services handle deleting accounts in different ways.
Some services have a time limit that disables accounts that have not been logged in within a certain period of time. The time limit may vary between different services.
To prevent misuse, social media services ask you to send documents to prove the death of your loved one and your family relationship.
Many social media services are foreign, so the documents mentioned in their instructions may differ from the documents you get in Finland. For example, Facebook guidelines mention a death certificate, but in practice an extract from the Population Information System counts as a certificate. You can also prove your family relationship with the deceased person through the Population Information System.
The documents you may need in different services are:
- one or more extracts from the Population Information System
- a copy of a notice of death or an obituary
- a copy of your ID.
Official documents often contain personal identity codes. Social media services do not need the end of the personal identity code. Facebook, among others, advises you to cover the end of your personal identity code before taking or scanning a photo of it.
You can order an extract from the Population Information System from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency by phone, e-mail, Lomake.fi service or by visiting a service location. When ordering, explain that the purpose of the extract is to delete a deceased person's social media accounts and that you need the following information on the extract:
- name of the deceased
- date of birth of the deceased
- time of death of the deceased
- name of the person requesting the extract
- date of birth of the person requesting the extract
- relationship between the person requesting the extract and the deceased.
If you are the child, parent or spouse of the deceased person, you can get a certificate of death and a certificate of your family relationship on the same extract. In other cases, more than one extract may be required.
If necessary, you can order an extract in English.
Some social media services allow you to choose between deleting and memorialising an account. You can discuss the options together with other relatives.
A deleted user account is no longer visible in the social media service in any way. Posts, comments and photos will be removed. If you want to save photos or anything else, you need to do this before the account is deleted.
A memorialised profile stays in the social media service but with a note letting visitors to the profile know that it is a memorial page. Memorialisation allows social media services to offer a space where family members and friends can share memories of their loved one.
Social media services usually request more documents if you wish to delete a user account than if you wish to memorialise it. Usually only a close relative can request the deletion of a a social media profile but in some services, even a friend can request that the page be memorialised.
A deceased person's Facebook account can either be completely deleted or memorialised.
The easiest way to manage a deceased person's Facebook account is if the deceased person had appointed a legacy contact on Facebook. A legacy contact can manage an account that has been memorialised, or they can request the removal of a user account permanently.
A close relative or the executor of the estate can request the removal of a user account. Facebook requires a document that proves that you are either one of the above-mentioned people. In addition, you will need a certificate of your loved one's death. An extract from the Population Information System is suitable for this purpose. You can order it from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. Learn more about the required documents on Facebook Support. Once you have the necessary documents, complete the Facebook form to request the removal of a user account of a close relative. If the deceased had appointed a legacy contact person, only that person can request the removal of the account.
If you want to change the account to a memorial account, you need a photo of your loved one's notice of death, death certificate, obituary or other document confirming death. An extract from the Population Information System is also suitable for this purpose. You can request memorialisation using the same form as for deleting a user account. For more information, see the Facebook Help article on memorialising user pages. Facebook users can set up a preference for deleting their account after they die in the settings. If your loved one has done this, it is not possible to memorialise the account.
If the deceased person had used their Facebook IDs for other services, access to them may be lost by deleting the Facebook account. Such services include Instagram, Spotify, and Tinder.
A deceased person's Instagram account can be completely deleted or memorialised.
Close family members can request for the Instagram account to be deleted. Instagram requires a certificate that proves that you are a close relative of the deceased. An extract from the Population Information System is suitable for this purpose. The form to request deleting the Instagram account of a close relative.
On top of the close relatives of the deceased, other people can also request to memorialise the Instagram account. The form also asks for proof of death. Instagram mentions that e.g. an obituary or a news article counts as proof. The form to request the memorialisation of a deceased person's Instagram account.
Close family members can request for the Twitter account to be deleted. You can request to delete the Twitter account with a form. Once the form has been submitted, Twitter contacts you via email for further information. You may need a copy of your personal identification and a certificate of the death of the account holder, which in Finland is an extract from the Population Information System.
On LinkedIn, a close relative can request the deceased person's profile to be removed or memorialised.
Deleting or memorialising a LinkedIn profile is requested through a form. LinkedIn asks you to fill in the details of the deceased person and attach a document proving your right to act on their behalf. An extract from the Population Information System is suited for this purpose.
LinkedIn also has a form that allows you to report the death of a user without submitting documents. The form can also be completed by non-family members. LinkedIn will not delete the account based on the information in this form alone but it can hide the account.
You can search for instructions for deleting a deceased person's account by entering the name of the social media service in the search box in your browser and the search terms "deceased person".
Some social media services have not published instructions for deleting a deceased person's user account. Snapchat and TikTok, for example, are particularly popular with young people, and they don’t have instructions on that yet. In practice, you need the user name and password to remove user accounts in these services.
Typically, people don't tell others their passwords because they're meant to be personal. However, if you have the deceased person's username and password, you can use them to delete the account. In this case, follow the instructions for users of the service:
- Instructions on deleting a Facebook account
- Instructions on deleting a Twitter account
- Instructions on deleting an Instagram account
- Instructions on deleting a Snapchat account
- Instructions on deleting a TikTok account
On all services, you might not be able to delete the profile on your mobile device. In this case, delete the account on your computer.
Logging in with some else's IDs is usually against the terms and conditions of the services, so the services do not reveal passwords even to the close relatives of the deceased.