How Social Networks Deal With Death [Infographic]


Death on social media can be difficult to deal with. Any time there is a disaster — natural or man made — users often pour out sympathies and make donations to charities, all boosted by their social circles. But when it comes to the death of a loved one, there can also be a few odd questions. A British funeral service called R Hyde Chambers has created an infographic to help the bereaved deal with these questions.

Given the numbers of users, death is an inevitability on social networks, just as it is in life. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population — that’s 2.5 billion people — are online. Over 1.8 billion are social media users, accounting for 26 percent of the world’s population.

Of the users who have considered what will happen to their online presence after their demise, 43 percent said they would like their accounts closed down. Twenty percent said that they’d like their profiles to remain, but comments to be closed, and another 20 percent were unsure. Sixteen percent said they’d like their accounts to remain in perpetuity, with comments enabled.

The ability to access the account of a deceased person varies from service to service. Gmail and Hotmail allow the bereaved access, provided that certain conditions are met, while Yahoo! Mail doesn’t, because its terms of service says there is no right of survivorship.

Facebook tussles with this question frequently, and maintains the policy that users’ pages will act as a memorial for the deceased, allowing others to share memories. This approach seems prudent, since there are already 30 million profiles with deceased owners on Facebook.

To see how other platforms and online tools plan for the death of a user, or to see which services can help plan for a digital afterlife, view the infographic below:

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