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What Will Happen to My Foursquare Account After I Die?

By , Attorney

What happens to your Foursquare account when you die depends on a few things, including:

  • Whether you've left a plan
  • Foursquare's policies about the accounts of deceased people
  • Your state's law

Have you Made a Plan?

The surest way to know what will happen to your Foursquare account is to make a plan and leave any necessary instructions to the people who will be wrapping up your estate.

Providing Access to Your Survivors

If you want someone to access to your Foursquare account after you die – say, post a tip or delete your account -- then leave instructions about 1) how to log in to the account and 2) what to do with it.

However, if you ask someone to access your account, keep in mind that sharing your password is contrary to Foursquare's Terms of Use, which does not allow you to transfer your account and requires you to keep your password private. Having your survivors login to your account could prompt Foursquare to delete it, if it finds out. That said -- practically speaking -- giving a trusted person your username and password is probably well worth that risk, especially if you want your account deleted anyway.

Read on to learn about Foursquare's policies on inactive accounts, deleting accounts, and deleting the data associated with an account.

Keeping Your Account Private

If you don't want anyone accessing your Foursquare account after you die, you have a few options:

Delete the account before you die. This is not always practical because you may want to continue to use your account during your life, but it is an effective way to make sure your account won't continue after you die. To delete your account, go to the Privacy Settings page – you must be logged in. Find the tiny "delete your account" link.

If you follow that link, Foursquare will tell you that choosing to delete your account will permanently delete all of the information associated with your account: "[A]ll of your tips, tastes, and check-ins will be lost." However, Foursquare's Privacy Policy provides more detail about this, including the fact that the information associated with your account won't be deleted right away. And it reminds you that because you have shared information with other users – or because other users may have copied your information – you may never be able to delete all of the information associated with your account.

Even after you remove information from your account or profile, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere, to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users. Removed and deleted information may remain on backup media for up to ninety (90) days prior to being deleted from our servers.

Instruct someone you trust to delete the account after you die. You can leave login information and instructions for someone go into the account and delete it after your death. (You must be logged in to delete the account, so they will need your login info.) Or you can have your executor or family member notify Foursquare about your death. Foursquare will not allow someone to access a deceased person's account, but it does provide a process for deleting a deceased person's account. This requires that a survivor email Foursquare the following information:

  • A link or User ID of the profile in question.
  • A copy of the deceased user's death certificate
  • A copy of the reporting person's government-issued ID (e.g., driver's license)
  • A statement including all of the following:
  • The reporting person's first and last name, email address, current contact information, and relationship to the deceased user or their estate
  • A brief description of the details that evidence this account belongs to the deceased, if the name on the account does not match the name on death certificate.
  • A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)

Again, according to Foursquare's Privacy Policy, if it does delete the account, the information associated with the account will remain undeleted for about 90 days.

Depend on Foursquare's inactive policy to delete the account. Relying on Foursquare to eventually delete an inactive account is not a good idea because Foursquare does not appear to have an policy about inactive accounts. Your Foursquare account will remain active until you choose to delete it or until (hopefully) someone reports that you are dead. Because Foursquare does not have a policy to delete inactive accounts, your account may remain active long after your death, which could be disturbing to the people you know who will continue to see your profile. As discussed above, your survivors can report your death to Foursquare, but you don't know when if they will do this or how long the process will take. The surest way to make sure Foursquare deletes your account promptly is to leave instructions and login information with a trusted person, so that soon after your death he or she can close your account while logged in as you.

Instructing Foursquare What to Do With Your Account When You Die

Foursquare does not currently allow you to decide what should happen to your account when you die, but it might someday. Tech companies are recognizing that users may want to control the fate of their accounts and profiles after death, and some are creating the tools for this. For example, Google's Inactive Account Manager allows account holders to decide whether to delete the account or pass (some) account information on to survivors after a period of inactivity. Keep an eye out for Foursquare to provide a similar tool.

If You Don't Make a Plan

As discussed above, if you don't make a plan for your Foursquare account, your account will continue to exist until someone reports you that you have died and Foursquare chooses to close the account. This is not a desirable outcome, particularly, if 1) you want someone to access your account or 2) if you want your account to remain private. On one hand, unless you leave instructions and access information for your account, the person wrapping up your estate (your executor) is unlikely to be able to get access to it (hopefully deleting it will not be a problem). On the other hand, in some states, your executor may be able to get access even if that's not what you want.

A growing number of states grant executors authority to access digital accounts. "Account custodians" like Foursquare could be required to provide access to executors. These are new and untested laws, and you can expect most companies to resist providing access to accounts, even in the states where the law requires it to do so.

You can learn more about this, including information about your state's law on Nolo's Digital Assets page.

The Bottom Line

If you do not make a plan, after your death, your Foursquare account will continue to exist until someone reports that you have died.

If you want more control over what happens to your Foursquare account, leave instructions for your loved ones explaining how to log into the account and what to do with it when they get in.

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