After researching Instagram’s social media policies for digital after life, I have come to find that they are not that generous with information. According to Instagram’s website, the company doesn’t reveal what exactly happens to a deceased online account. Instead, their policy states that you should contact them and then they will email you back. In addition, from The Digital Beyond article, an Instagram spokesperson stated, “When a person passes away, we do honor requests from close family members to deactivate their Instagram account, which removes the profile and associated information from the site.” In my opinion, maybe this should be put into their private policy section. I like how Insta tries to keep everything short and to the point- but with something so sensitive like this they definitely should put a little more explanation as to what exactly will happen to a deceased’s account. This would save them time explaining to everyone via email what their options are. Also, I think they should state whether or not a family member will be allowed control over that person’s account instead of deactivating it. Instagram means well, but their approach seems insensitive because of how brief it is.
Some have also expressed their opinions, in The Digital Beyond article, about how they believe that Instagram should save or create an archive of a deceased’s account for their family members. I feel that Instagram should give the rights to the family members and allow them to gain access. That way, the family can have the account go private so no one other than their existing friends can view their photos / comment. I have seen this happen before to one of my cousin’s friends and I would always check up on the boy who passed away, and eventually his Instagram account got set to private. I am not sure exactly what happens and who dictates that, and I feel that that is something Instagram can improve- explaining more in their policy section.
In addition to their private policy, I have looked further into their “Priacy and Safety Center- Reporting Something” section. Instagram’s terms and conditions about a memorialized account state:
Instagram doesn’t allow anyone to log into a memorialized account.
Memorialized accounts can’t be changed in any way. This includes changes to likes, followers, tags, posts and comments.
Anyone can send a photo or video using Instagram Direct to the deceased person.
Posts the deceased person shared (ex: photos, videos) stay on Instagram and are visible to the audience they were shared with.
Memorialized accounts don’t appear in public spaces like in Search & Explore.
Learn how to request the memorialization of a deceased person’s account.
Then I dug a little deeper and found out specific information on what exactly a memorialization entails:
How do I report a deceased person’s account on Instagram?
If you see an account on Instagram that belongs to someone who’s passed away, you can report it to us for memorialization. If you’re an immediate family member of that person, you can request the account be removed from Instagram.
Memorializing the account:
We’ll memorialize the Instagram account of a deceased person when we receive a valid request. We try to prevent references to memorialized accounts from appearing on Instagram in ways that may be upsetting to the person’s friends and family, and we also take measures to protect the privacy of the deceased person by securing the account.
To report an account to be memorialized, please contact us. We require proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article, to memorialize an account.
Please keep in mind that we can’t provide login information for a memorialized account. It’s always against our policies for someone to log into another person’s account.
Removing the account:
Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Instagram. When you submit a request for removal, we require proof that you’re an immediate family member of the deceased person, such as:
The deceased person’s birth certificate
The deceased person’s death certificate
Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person, or his/her estate
To request that an account be removed, please fill out this form.
After looking into those policies, Instagram does give more information about what they can do on their end. They do state that they cannot give login information because it has always been against their policies. However, I feel that they should give the rights over to a family member in this circumstance, just like anything else would. I think that Instagram does try to secure and maintain the deceased’s account by allowing it to exist and not allowing changes to be made. I think it is fair how they insist on getting email request with proof of relationship and death certificate.