They fear posts could come back to haunt them, the new survey found.
One in three Brits want every trace of their social media presence deleted when they die as they fear posts could come back to haunt them, a new survey has found.
An estimated 4.5 billion people (around 57 per cent of the global population) use platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but few make plans for how they want their online profiles to be dealt with once they pass away.
The study, carried out by Memoria Affordable Funerals also found that one in nine want them to be turned into posthumous memorials.
Chief executive Howard Hodgson said: “Many of us avoid talking about death because it makes us uncomfortable, but it’s actually one of the most important conversations we can have.
“It’s vital to be open and honest with your family about what you want to happen after you die so they know exactly how to deal with everything from the funeral to social media accounts.
“Some like the idea of having a shared space online where mourners can gather to pay their respects, but it’s interesting that so many people want their online presence completely wiped after they die.
“This could be due to fears their profiles won’t stand the test of time, or maybe they would prefer to be remembered for their real life connections instead.
“Our social media posts are a reflection of our current personalities, but there’s always a risk we might look back in 50 years and be mortified by what we thought was interesting or funny.
“Attitudes in society change over time too, so it’s possible that a caption or a photograph that might not be anything unusual now might be construed as sexist or discriminatory in a few decades – or perhaps exactly the opposite as the pendulum swings back in the future.
“Social media might be the last thing on your mind after losing someone dear, but features such as birthday reminders and photograph anniversaries may cause fresh pain down the line.
“It’s only by talking to our loved ones about the often ignored subject of death that we can truly ensure our wishes can be met after we’ve gone.”
Facebook is currently the most popular social media site with around 2.9 billion active monthly users, followed by YouTube on 2 billion.
Others include photo-sharing site Instagram, microblogging site Twitter and video-sharing network TikTok, who all have a significant number of users.
Users may be unaware that each site has its own rules in place for what happens when a user dies, so it can pose an unwelcome problem for a bereaved family to deal with after a loss.
These are as follows:
Following your death, a friend or family member can apply to the site for your profile to become a memorial page where the word ‘Remembering’ will preface your name and your posts and photos will remain visible.
If you want to make plans before you die, you can nominate a ‘legacy contact’ – a person who will look after your memorial page and carry out tasks such as responding to friend requests and writing a pinned post.
However, they won’t be able to log into your account and so won’t be able to delete anything.
If you want your Facebook profile deleted entirely after your death, you can arrange this in your settings.
Facebook also recommends friends and family can create a new group for people to gather and share memories, if desired.
The popular photo-sharing site is owned by Facebook, so it makes sense that the rules for both platforms are somewhat similar.
Friends and family of the deceased can ask to have the account turned into a memorial page, with proof of death such as a death certificate, an online news article or obituary required.
Nobody will be allowed to login to the page following a death but immediate family can also apply for the page to be removed entirely.
As the newest kid on the social media block, TikTok does not appear to have any formal policies in place for when a user dies.
There is no option to turn the account into a memorial.
The best option is to leave clear instructions with a loved one to have your account deleted after your death, if this is your wish.
Microblogging platform Twitter does not currently have a memorialisation option after a death, but is expected to introduce one soon.
Bosses at Twitter were forced to rethink their policy after many users complained that deleting the account of a deceased person prevented people from revisiting past conversations and remembering the deceased.
Currently, the only option remains applying to have the account removed entirely.
The research, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Affordable Funerals, quizzed 1,000 UK adults on attitudes towards death.
Some 34 per cent of respondents expressed a desire for their social media profiles to be removed entirely. Only 12 per cent, meanwhile, expressed a desire to “being left as an online memorial”, whilst another 12 per cent opted for “being left active but not updated”.
A further seven per cent chose leaving accounts active to be updated by family and friends, the same percentage that wanted them to be made private.