All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.
keeping you and your family safe
Because social media is an integral part of our lives, it is inevitable that it will also be an issue upon our deaths. Social media websites are beginning to address this by providing options for the disposition of social media accounts and content after the death of the owner. For example, Facebook allows users to designate a Legacy Contact who, after your death, can write a pinned post for your profile, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture and cover photo. They can also download a copy of what you shared on Facebook. Your Legacy Contact will not be able to log into your account, delete or change any of your past posts, read messages sent to other friends, or remove any of your friends. You also have the option of having your Facebook account memorialized or deleted after your death. You must designate to Facebook a Legacy Contact and your final wishes for your account before you die.
If you die without making arrangements for your social media accounts, most social media websites will deny your survivors access to them. Remember, you own your content on social media. Twitter, LinkedIn and Google may work with someone authorized to handle the owner's estate, but this is by no means guaranteed. Pinterest wont release account information to anyone but the account owner. Pinterest also will not delete your account for inactivity. So if you die without deleting your Pinterest account, it will theoretically remain on the Internet forever. Twitter deletes inactive accounts after 6 months. Google deletes them after 9 months. Facebook and LinkedIn delete them when inactivity is reported and confirmed unless other arrangements are made.
There are also other complicated issues involving ownership if intellectual property. Creative works such as writing, music, photographs, and videos are owned by their creators until that ownership is transferred to someone else. If those creative works exist on social media and are owned by someone else after the creator's death, is there a right to access the deceased person's social media to access that intellectual property? What about licenses to use intellectual property like music or movies? Can your relatives inherit all the licenses you purchased on iTunes to your music library or do those licenses expire with you? These are all questions without simple answers because the laws are evolving and must be tested in the courts.