Why it's so difficult to transfer accounts after someone passes away.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 4th, 2013
nyone who has ever tried to quit Facebook or delete their account knows how hard it can be. It's nearly impossible to get rid of everything when you're alive, and unsurprisingly, it doesn't get easier if you die. There are plenty of instances detailed on the internet of cases where one person dies and their family tries to shut down their Facebook page, unsuccessfully. Why is it so difficult to transfer agency to someone else, even when written into a will?
One reason Facebook accounts are not transferrable is the site's terms of service. Service agreements prohibit companies from sharing a person's information, even if it is requested in that person's will. Some lawmakers have attempted to push legislation that would allow for information to be passed along to whomever was named in the will, but federal law still seems to trump anything in the bill--in other words, companies' privacy policies still reign supreme.
Facebook supposedly requires the pages of deceased users to be deleted, but we've seen no evidence of this policy being enforced.
It's a unique problem we're dealing with as a society--there's no real precedent for the division of intangibles. Wills of tangible items and wealth are simple enough to execute,but intangibles like Facebook accounts and the like are still a little cloudy in terms of how to transfer ownership without violating policies or laws. Even if someone passed along their username or password, that person it's passed along to could face trouble regarding fraud.
Only five states have laws that allow estate lawyers to access digital assets, including login information for social websites.
Other issues regarding Facebook accounts after death involve families who don't want to delete their loved ones' pages, but rather keep them online as a sort of digital memorial space. Facebook allegedly requires pages belonging to deceased users to be taken down, though we've seen evidence that they're not too strict.
We imagine there will be guidelines soon enough for better management of social media and digital property, and it can't come soon enough.