Twitter's policy requires several pieces of information about how an interested party relates to the deceased user.

Twitter’s policy requires several pieces of information about how an interested party relates to the deceased user.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Parties must send in pieces of information about how they relate to that person
  • Twitter will remove a deceased user’s account, or provide an archive of the user’s tweets
  • Facebook has two options for the deceased – removing their account or “memorializing” it
  • Facebook puts emphasis on privacy and what can be done with user information

(CNET) — Consider it a sign of the times, or even just success that Twitter now has a policy in place to handle ownership of a user’s account once they’ve died.

As expected, interested parties need to send in several pieces of information about how they relate to that person before Twitter will take action.

Once the proper credentials have been sent to the company (via e-mail or snail mail), Twitter is then able to do one of two things: either remove a deceased user’s account entirely, or provide an archive of all that user’s tweets so family members can access them offline.

According to the new policy page, the steps required to get to either of these options include:

1. Your full name, contact information (including e-mail address), and your relationship to the deceased user.
2. The username of the Twitter account, or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.
3. A link to a public obituary or news article.

Jeremy Toeman, who is the CEO and founder of Legacy Lockera site that acts as a digital safe for things like Web site log-ins, and messages to family members that can be accessed after a person dies — thinks Twitter’s relationship requirements just aren’t good enough. In a post on Legacy Locker’s company blog Toeman notes:

“This policy lacks the concept of desired intent. What if an individual wanted their Twitter stream archived (and not just by the Library of Congress)? What if another user wanted it wiped out (a challenge with any service, we acknowledge) completely?

What about any situation wherein the desires of the user who dies are in conflict with those who support them, or a conflict within the surviving family members?”

Those certainly aren’t easy questions, which is why Toeman suggests that users not rely on Twitter, or other online social services like it, to create more comprehensive postmortem policies that can factor in these kind of potential problems.

Instead, Toeman suggests supplementing those safeguards with the use of Toeman’s own service, which lets users write down their log-in information, and explicit wishes for what to do with various online accounts after they’ve passed away.

Coming back around to Twitter’s new policy though — how does it compare to Facebook’s, which has been around since October?

Facebook’s system has two options for the deceased: either removing their account, or “memorializing” it. Unlike Twitter’s options, memorializing means the account lives on in Facebook’s system, and other Facebook members can interact with the deceased member’s wall.

Fbmemorial

What’s interesting about what Facebook put into place, compared to Twitter, is that there’s still a great deal of emphasis put on privacy and what can be done with the information that user has posted to the service.