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New Social Media Regulation Welcomed

Social media platforms

Last week new powers were announced that will require social media companies to hand childrens data over to coroners.

In what has been heralded as a triumph by bereaved families, Ofcom will now have the power to obtain any data from social media sites that the coroner believes may have been consequential in a child's death.

The amendment was brought by Beeban Kidron, the peer and founder of the 5rights charity, which campaigns for child safety online, and was backed by Bereaved Families for Online Safety, a group started by parents of children who have died after experiencing negative and harmful content online.

In some high profile court cases, companies have been reluctant to provide any data to coroners or parents, with a maximum fine of £1,000 the only punishment. Now they face fines of up to 10% of global revenue and 12-months in prison.

How can you manage someone's social media accounts after they have died?

You can report a death to Facebook if you have a copy of the death certificate. Facebook can then either remove or memorialise your loved one’s Facebook page. You also have the option to choose a legacy contact, a person who will be able to make decisions about your main profile once it has been memorialised.

You can also report a death to Twitter, but the company reserves the right to keep certain media on its site.

On TikTok, there is not currently a way to memorialise an account, or to request an account be deleted by reporting the death of the user.

Most social media companies have become more aware of the needs of the bereaved. This means that you can now do certain things to minimise the amount of upsetting content you see on your newsfeed, if you wish to.

If a certain user is constantly posting things that you find upsetting, most social media sites have a way to unfollow or block another user so you do not have to see what they post.

Another option is to use websites designed for mourning. Services like Funeral Guide’s online obituaries give you a secure online space to share memories of your loved one. Unlike social media sites, Funeral Guide’s obituaries are moderated so that unpleasant messages and spam are removed. This can help stop the ‘trolling’ that occurs so easily on social media, where people purposefully send hurtful and upsetting messages.

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