12
Apr
2017

What Happens to Your Twitter When You Die?

As we’re all well aware, there aren’t many people out there who own a personal computer or a smartphone but don’t have a profile on at least one social networking websites. Whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other site you can think of, almost all internet users have at some point been a part of this worldwide phenomenon.

And while some folk close their accounts manually, we have to wonder what happens when a social media user passes away before shutting down their profile. It’s not a very great prospect (all things considered), but it’s definitely an interesting subject all of us have thought about. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what happens to your Twitter profile when you die.

The Policy

Twitter is a famous website that currently holds the third spot of eBiz’s most popular social networking sites with an estimate of 310,000,000 visitors per month. That’s quite a big number, but it’s still not that close to Facebook’s 1.1 billion monthly visitors. Nonetheless, a lot of people have Twitter profiles up – everyday folk and celebrities alike.

If you’ve ever visited Twitter (and chances are you have), you noticed how fast-paced its concept is. Tweets don’t have a long lifespan, they are very short, and making connections here works on the “following” method rather than the “friends” concept you can see on Facebook.

Now, let’s get to the question: What happens to your Twitter when you die?

Back in 2010, Twitter officials have established a policy that applies to accounts of deceased users. Following Facebook’s example, Twitter allows friends and loved ones of a deceased user to contact the support team and request deletion or memorialization of the profile of said user. Accounts that belonged to a dead person will not show up in the “Who to Follow” section of the site anymore, but the accounts still look the same as if nothing happened.

Furthermore, Twitter’s policy also states the following: “Please note that we cannot allow access to the account or disclose other non-public information regarding the account.” This basically means that friends or family members who wish to post something from a deceased person’s account (such as last messages) won’t be able to do so if they don’t possess the credentials necessary for the login.

Incidents and Mishaps

Many would argue that Twitter’s policy regarding deceased users has some gray areas to it. Even though it’s a fairly all-around solution, the “you can’t login without your dead loved one’s password” thing actually led to more than a few incidents.

One of the most notable and recent ones happened in May, 2016, when the Twitter account of the late New York Times media columnist David Carr came under attack by a sexting spam bot. Carr passed away in 2015, but it wasn’t until the next year that a malicious code infiltrated his Twitter profile, changed his name to Miranda Davis, uploaded a new photo, and started tweeting almost 500,000 people who followed Carr on the social networking website.

This event brought Twitter’s policy for handling deceased users accounts back into the spotlight, and many have asked for it to change so that Twitter itself can provide those closest to the deceased user with his/her login credentials. The main reason behind this outcry is due to the fact that those who are closely related or connected to famous people want to keep their Twitter accounts alive in order to post tweets in memory and honor of their deceased friend or family member.

However, Twitter just repeated their statement from 2010, which says: “We are unable to provide account access to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased.”

Unlike this popular social media site, Facebook allows a deceased user’s next of kin to keep their loved one’s page open, if they so request. This acts as a “legacy contact” and lets people act as administrators for the pages of the loved ones they lost, without having the authority to access their private messages or to post in their name.

So, to recap, there are three possible scenarios that follow the death of a Twitter user: their account can get deleted forever, it can be memorialized as a way of remembering them, or it can be left as it is. Just make sure if someone you trust knows your login information, because if they decide to keep your Twitter profile open, they better know it beforehand since Twitter won’t be of much help to them.