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Liz Crenshaw, Patti Petitte & Katie Roberts
Facebook has one billion users worldwide, but what happens to your Facebook page after you die? Consumer reporter Liz Crenshaw looked into what options are available for family members when a deceased person's profile lives on.
Update: On Tuesday, Diana Gonzalez told News4 that Facebook has honored her request to remove her sister's page - and removed it from the site.
Facebook has more than 1 billion users, but what happens to a person’s Facebook page when they die?
An estimated 580,000 Facebook users in the U.S. alone will die this year, according to a Pepperdine University Law Review.
Diana Gonzalez got frustrated trying to figure out how to remove her sister Aurra’s Facebook profile after she died suddenly a year ago this week.
Her active profile was a painful reminder to Gonzalez that her sister is gone.
“First of all, she shows up as a friend and family,” Gonzalez said. “She's always there.”
Gonzalez wanted to delete her sister's page, but without her sister's Facebook password, Gonzalez was stumped. She tried over and over to get help from Facebook.
“There must be some way to reach someone to say, ‘What do you need from me so we can do this?’” she said. “I didn't find anything.”
So Gonzalez searched the web for ways to remove a deceased person's Facebook page but said she only found other people with the same problem.
“No one really had an answer,” she said, and she couldn’t find a number to call Facebook.
News4 contacted Facebook through media channels and learned it does honor requests from close family members to deactivate a deceased person's account.
In fact, Facebook said it has two options: You can request to either memorialize a Facebook page or delete it all together.
Gonzalez wanted her sister's page deleted forever.
“This is just one more thing, one more process I need to get through on her behalf,” she said.
Facebook provided the following instructions:
Facebook requires you to fill out an online form and upload documentation. Gonzalez needed her sister’s death certificate and proof she was a lawful representative of the deceased.
Gonzalez submitted her request. Then she received an email from Facebook acknowledging it was sent.
Facebook told News4 it works to delete the account as quickly as possible.
“It wasn't that hard, but I wish I hadn't had to dig so far for it, but it's hard emotionally to do this because it's a little piece of her that is going away,” Gonzalez said.
She's still waiting for Facebook to take down her sister's page.
Twitter removes deceased user accounts similarly, but you mail or fax the required documents. Click here to learn how to contact Twitter about a deceased user.