Twitter has rapidly become a hugely influential social networking platform. It has over 255 million monthly active users and over 500 million Tweets are sent each day. It is used to amplify each user's voice, thoughts and feelings through short twitter messages.
Deciding what you would like to happen to your Twitter account once you have passed away
There are a number of things we can do to address our digital death on Twitter. The guide below highlights the different options available in order to help you make an inform decision and start creating any suitable plans to address
Twitter's inactive account policy states that "To keep your account active, be sure to log in and Tweet (i.e., post an update) within 6 months of your last update. Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity".
If you would like your friends, family and future generations to be able to view your Tweets there are, however, a few options to consider.
Leave your Twitter password to one or more friend or family members
Leaving the password for a Twitter account to a trusted friend or family member can help prolong the life of the Twitter account. However, in order to keep the account active they may feel obligated or obliged to 'tweet' on their loved ones behalf. For many people this will be fine, however some may wish their Twitter stream to only include tweets that they had constructed and sent.
If you do leave your password to one or more friends or family members you may also want to consider giving them permission to tweet from your account.
This can be useful for those left behind when announcing (or confirming) someone's passing and arranging a funeral.
Use DeadSocial to preschedule and send out Tweets after death
We provide a free tool that enables social media users to send out messages once they have passed away. One of the features provides a space where Twitter users can create a series of scheduled messages to be sent out after death. If you do utilise this tool we recommend that you schedule at least one tweet every six months in order to adhere to Twitter's current terms of service.
*All social networking sites retain the right to change their policy at anytime. If your tweets and digital legacy are of some importance to you we recommend considering passing on your Twitter password to your trusted digital executor. You may also want to download all of your tweets and/or request that all of your tweets are downloaded in your will.
Image from DeadSocial's free 'goodbye tool'.
Transferring your Twitter account to your next of kin
Twitter does not currently provide any tools that help you transfer your account or have the media uploaded. Furthermore they do not currently have a policy in place that allows the next of kind to attain access to Twitter accounts of the deceased.
Twitter are clear about this on their policy: "We are unable to provide account access to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased" (source)
If this policy changes we will (of course) update this section accordingly. Despite Twitter not currently providing a service for twitter account transferal we do recommend that if you would like to transfer your account or provide the password to your next of kin that you document this within your will or other legal document. This documentation could be used for reference and validation after death amongst friends and family members. Furthermore it also may assist Twitter in the future should circumstances change.
Downloading Your Tweets
Since 2012 Twitter has provided a tool that enables each user to download their own tweets. To do so you will need to login to Twitter and visit the settings page.
Here you can 'Request your archive' or in other words download a copy of your tweets.
This action can only be carried out by the owner of the Twitter account. By downloading a copy of your tweets you will not remove the tweets from the account. However the copy can be viewed when not online and by those who are not familiar with using Twitter. Furthermore if Twitter decide to archive older tweets (to help save costs etc) those left behind will still be able to view all of the tweets, images etc. previously distributed from the account.
Deactivate (close) your Twitter account
Twitter accounts can be closed by the account owner at anytime. If it is important for your tweets, including the interactions you have had, to be removed visit Twitter deactivating your account page.
If you decide to deactivate (close) your account those left behind will not be able to view your tweets online.
Request that your Twitter account is closed in your will
If you would not like your Twitter account and your tweets to no longer be viewed after you have passed away you should state directions for this in your will / social media will.
By doing so it may help those left behind to adhere to your wishes. In order to close a Twitter account of the deceased a number of documents confirming the account closure needs to posted or faxed to Twitter in the USA.
The excerpt below can be found on Twitter's Help Section:
In the event of the death of a Twitter user, we can work with a person authorized to act on the behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated." The following information is required:
- The username of the deceased user's Twitter account (e.g., @username or twitter.com/username)
- A copy of the deceased user's death certificate
- A copy of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver's license)
- A signed statement including:
- Your first and last name
- Your email address
- Your current contact information
- Your relationship to the deceased user or their estate
- Action requested (e.g., 'please deactivate the Twitter account')
- A brief description of the details that evidence this account belongs to the deceased, if the name on the account does not match the name on death certificate.
- A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)
Please send us the documentation by fax or mail to the following address:
Twitter, Inc. c/o: Trust & Safety 1355 Market St., Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94103 Fax : 1-415-865-5405
Note: This is a United States number, so please be sure to include the appropriate international dialing code if you're sending from outside the United States.
Please note: We are unable to provide account access to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased.
I don't care about what happens to my Twitter account when I pass away.
Research carried out by DeadSocial's 'Digital Death Survey 2014' found that 34% of respondents "don't really mind" if their social media accounts remained active after they had passed away.
We recommend that regardless of whether or not you care about your Twitter account (or any other social media account) remaining active or not that you document or at least state your wishes to your friends and family.
This may help make the decisions made by your next of kin easier should anything happen to you.