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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Online platforms built for the living increasingly have to confront what to do when one of their users dies, leaving an account behind.

Details: Each major platform is different, but all have procedures in place should a user die.

  • Facebook will “memorialize” a deceased user’s account — turning it essentially into a remembrance page — at the request of family members or friends. (Family members can also request to delete the account entirely.)
  • Instagram, which Facebook owns, will also lock in the contents of someone’s account when they die.
  • Twitter will deactivate a deceased user’s account in collaboration with a “person authorized to act on behalf of the estate, or with a verified immediate family member.”
  • Google will work to secure a user’s account after they die. “We can work with immediate family members and representatives to close the account of a deceased person where appropriate,” the company says. “In certain circumstances we may provide content from a deceased user's account.”

Several platforms encourage users to plan ahead for their own death, often by designating an individual to handle their account. Facebook users can also tell the service to delete their account when they die.

The big picture: Social networks have repeatedly grappled with how to handle this question, developing their policies over the years — and facing criticism along the way.

  • Last year, a writer for Mashable noted that effectively anyone could memorialize a Facebook account, based on the way the system worked at the time.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg announced earlier this year that the site was now “only allowing friends and family members to request to have an account memorialized.”

  • She also said the company uses artificial intelligence to keep content from non-memorialized accounts belonging to deceased users out of other users' feeds.
  • A Facebook spokesperson wouldn't specify how the platform identifies whether someone has died, but said that there "are any number of signals we look for to indicate a person may be deceased."

Go deeper:

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Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

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First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

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NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.