Will your Facebook account be hacked after you die?
Trading in Facebook accounts is a huge business. Inactive Facebook accounts, or those that used to belong to dead people, are bought and sold in online marketplaces. While Facebook is aware of the issue, not all of us who use the platform for sharing memes and updating our status from the back of Wetherspoons understand this dark phenomenon. Here’s how hacking into dead people’s Facebook accounts is a growing problem.
What’s the current situation with people creating fake Facebook accounts?
We’re all aware of the large corners of the Web that are mysterious and downright dodgy.
But trading Facebook accounts isn’t so hidden away, in the dark corners. You can easily find these vast fake-account marketplaces. For a small sum, any opportunistic marketer, scammer or troll (yes, even you) can amass a legion of seemingly human profiles capable of outwitting Facebook’s detection to then extort friends and family.
Do hackers target dead people?
In the world of cyber security, no one can really escape a hacker with malicious intentions, and anyone could be targeted. But hackers are apt to use dead people’s accounts when going on a cloning spree, or setting up a hacking scam. Getting into an inactive account is much easier, as a dead person won’t be able to flag up any suspicious goings-on from six feet under.
While any Facebook account can do the same job, hackers have been incentivised to target dead people. There’s a whole lot more to sell on the marketplace if the person you’ve hacked used to be a real person, for one, and who created real-life relationships, interactions and data.
Why are accounts so valuable?
It’s not just Facebook – Twitter, Instagram and even email accounts are also available to buy and sell on fake account marketplaces. In 2015, fake Twitter accounts were created by using the accounts of dead people for a hate campaign against the journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown.
It’s a strange enough feeling to scroll through your contacts list and find a dead friend’s phone number, but it’s even weirder to get a “like” on Facebook from someone who’s been dead for 6 months.
While dead people’s accounts are also easier to get into, using them is also, well, more shocking. After getting a friend request from an uncle who’d apparently died 6 months earlier, you might be more likely to give into a bribe.
More reasons a hacker might use a dead person’s account:
- Readymade friend’s list
- Networks, pages and groups information and contacts
- It’s easier to blackmail people
- Hackers might receive more money
What can you do to stop your account getting hacked after you die?
- State that you would like your account to be turned into a memorial.
- You could do this at the same time as setting up a legacy contact.
- If you see a dead person’s account get hacked, then report it to Facebook
- Visit our article on maintaining your online accounts after you die
Find out more
Death isn’t just unbearably boring admin and taxes; it also means your digital death. That’s why we created our Digital Death page – take a look at it here.
Do you have online privacy preferences for after you die? Read about it here
Do you have data privacy rights as a dead person? Read about it here