What Happens to Your Tweets When You Die?

Twitter has become such a popular social site that it’s not uncommon that 200 million tweets are posted each day, and last year it rose from 65 million per day. That’s a lot of people tweeting their interests, world events and daily activities. Twitter continues to grow in popularity.

Twitter even saw a ‘digital death’ when celebrities (who are still living) such as Alicia Keys, as well as many other well known names, stopped tweeting until a specific amount of donations were received to the “Keep a Child Alive” campaign – which went to some of the most ravaged AIDS countries, Africa and India.

It worked! By dying off digitally on Twitter, and threatening to stay digitally deceased, these celebs raised over a million dollars to the campaign, so that their followers would again see their tweets.

So what happens to your tweets and your twitter account when you actually do die? This is a question that has haunted most social networking sites, email providers and many other providers of Internet services.

It is well known that Facebook has millions of deceased users, just sitting out there in cyberspace. Facebook has come to the realization that something needs to be done, so they decided to allow family members the opportunity to ‘Memorialize’ their loved one’s profiles.

Twitter had a switch in its policy about death recently. Similar to Facebook’s memorialization of a loved one’s page, relatives can ask for the user’s Twitter account to be deleted. They can also get a copy of the user’s tweets if they qualify.

Twitter also eliminated the “Who to Follow” suggestions box for the deceased. But, deceased Twitter accounts can still be viewed, and look just as if the person were still alive, without the current tweets.

Qualifying for Twitter’s deletion and back up of tweets requires a link to an obituary, their relationship to the deceased, and/or a death certificate.

Twitter states: “Please note that we cannot allow access to the account or disclose other non-public information regarding the account.” So posting will pretty much be impossible unless the family member has access, such as the username and password.

Twitters death policy as of August, 2010 is as follows:

“If we are notified that a Twitter user has passed away, we can remove their account or assist family members in saving a backup of their public Tweets. Please contact us with the following information:
Your full name, contact information (including email address), and your relationship to the deceased user.
The username of the Twitter account, or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.
A link to a public obituary or news article.

You can contact us at privacy@twitter.com, or by mail or fax:

Twitter Inc.,
c/o: Trust & Safety

795 Folsom Street, Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94107
Fax: 415-222-9958
We will respond by email with any additional information we might need.”

If the user tweeted from a smartphone, then the smartphone policy might come into the picture as well.

The best part of this policy is that it helps prevent identity theft, and spam, hackers and everything that would be horrific for family members to endure, after losing their loved one.

The best solution, of course, is for everyone who is active on the Internet to create a digital will with companies such as:

  • Legacy Locker – www.legacylocker.com
  • Secure Safe – www.securesafe.com/en/

There are several others out there, however, these are the most popular. But preparing for your digital death is more than just creating a digital will – check out the Experts Guide to Protecting Yourself Online Before You Die. Taking care of this right away will solve all of the problems incurred should something unexpected happen, and your family will be able to access, delete and obtain your tweets without ever having to go through the red tape!



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