Bills would allow Facebook access after death

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A package of bills introduced Wednesday to the Michigan legislature would allow families access to their loved ones’ social media accounts after they die.

The issue may seem silly, but many people share photos and messages on Facebook that can become an archive of their life. Currently, families are not guaranteed access to an account in the event of someone’s death, meaning that archive could be lost.

Mark and Angel Howell support the bill package.

“I think it’s a good idea. It should be that way,” Mark Howell said.

Their daughter Krysta was 15 when she died in May 2012. She was one of several teen passengers of a drunk driver who crashed.

Krysta Howell, age 15. (Undated courtesy photo)
(Krysta Howell, age 15 – Undated courtesy photo)

Angel Howell said she frequently visits her daughter’s Facebook page.

“It just makes me feel good to go in there, and I can put something on there and just see her family and friends add stuff on there,” Angel Howell said.

“To have those all gone that would be horrible,” Mark Howell added. “That would be horrible, because those are pictures she took or had friends take.”

The Howells don’t have the password to their daughter’s  Facebook page and Facebook will not provide it.

“Please keep in mind that we cannot provide login information for a memorialized account. It is always a violation of our policies to log into another person’s account,” Facebook says on its site.

Rep. Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt Township), who co-sponsored the bills, said that’s not right.

“If someone passes away or another family member is incapacitated, the family ought to get access to those, so this package of bills is to help them do that,” Leonard said.

Leonard said the bills will not only help in preserving photos you want to keep, but will also allow family to remove photos that they don’t want online forever.

“I would love to get that password,” Mark Howell said. “Find out more about when I wasn’t around how she is.”

The bills still have a long way to go before becoming law. They have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.



House Bills 5366 through 5370

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