How does Twitter Deal with Passing of a User?

Nowadays, few are people who own a personal computer or a smartphone but don’t have a profile on at least one social networking website. Whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other site you can think of, almost all internet users have been a part of this worldwide phenomenon at some point. Others, on the other hand, prefer websites like BDSM or cowboy dating websites, but it’s all part of the same gargantuan machine.

And while some folk close their accounts manually, we can’t help but 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

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 we 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.

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

One of the most notable and recent incidents happened in May 2016, when the Twitter account of the late New York Times media columnist David Carr came under attack of a sexting spambot. A malicious code infiltrated his Twitter profile one year after his passing, changed his name to Miranda Davis, uploaded a new photo, and started tweeting to 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 can provide those closest to the deceased user with his/her login credentials. The main reason behind this outcry is that those who are closely related to famous people want to keep their Twitter accounts active.

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 request so. This is called “legacy contact” and it lets people act as page administrators 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. Either way, you should make sure that 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.