I feel kind of insensitive for asking about this.

I am connected to a guy that suddenly died about a month ago of natural causes. I was just looking through my connections on LinkedIn, and apparently his family never deleted his account or whatever happens to a LinkedIn account when somebody dies. I am the sort that wants to keep his network "up-to-date" and "organized," but I don't want to be insensitive to his family should they be checking his forwarded email.

I don't think this guy had much family (divorced with son) and I think his son would control his digital legacy. Unfortunately, his son is only about 10 years old, which doesn't mean that he is going to be taking care of these items for a long while.

So, I have 3 questions:

  • Is it bad form to remove a LinkedIn connection once the connection dies?
  • Should I wait for the family to deal with his digital items?
  • What is an acceptable period to wait before removing the connection?

He didn't have many connections, and I've also noted that none of his other connections have removed their links to him either.

  • 4
    I'm not sure I understand the premise of the question. Who are you afraid will be wronged by your removing the connection? The deceased himself? His family? – eykanal Feb 24 '13 at 2:44
  • Possibly the family and possibly former colleagues who are also connected to the guy on LinkedIn. I don't know; is there some kind of notification sent when somebody unlinks? – jdb1a1 Feb 24 '13 at 3:32
  • 5
    What are you trying to gain? – user8365 Feb 25 '13 at 1:14
  • I think the guy just wants to avoid any unnecessary upset to the grieving family. I have been in the same position. In my case I just left it as-is and didn't act to remove the deceased. I'm disappointed when I see him being endorsed for various skills he may/may not have had, two years after his passing... – VictorySaber Aug 20 '14 at 12:11

LinkedIn actually has a form you can fill out to report that a profile has been left behind by a deceased colleague. This will allow LinkedIn customer service to remove the profile themselves rather than have his son happen upon the profile himself 5-10 years down the road when it thoughtlessly suggests his dead father under "people you may know".

Verification of Death - Deceased Member

From LinkedIn's privacy policy:

Memorializing Accounts

If we learn that a User is deceased, we may memorialize the User’s account. In these cases we may restrict profile access, remove messaging functionality, and close an account if we receive a formal request from the User’s next of kin or other proper legal request to do so.

  • 1
    notice it said next of kin or other proper legal request. you won't get far just because you knew the guy – squeemish Feb 26 '13 at 19:50
  • 2
    It's actually contradictory, the privacy policy says "next of kin" but the customer service page that links to the form starts with "Unfortunately, there may be a time when you come across a profile of a deceased colleague, classmate, or connection. If this occurs, you can notify Customer Service that the profile still exists and may need to be removed." I'm guessing they do some sort of "memorialization" deal if you're not next of kin instead of nuking it entirely. – Joe Baker Feb 27 '13 at 5:01

From the LinkedIn Removing a Connection help page:

Connections will not be notified that they have been removed from your connections list.

So, nobody will be overtly notified that you have remove this connection. The only way for somebody to find out, is if they are connected to both you and the other user, and they are keeping watch on your connections (or his) to see if they change.

As to whether it's insensitive, or bad form - why would it be? As you say, people add and remove contacts all the time, and this should be no different. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais - "Offence is taken, not given."

You can only do what you feel is right, and I, for one, see no problem with removing this contact. If somebody wants to be offended, then they will be regardless of your intent.

Waiting for the family to take action, isn't really your concern. Let them do what they need to, and you do what you need to.

As for an acceptable time period to wait - the key word here is acceptable. That's down to you. How long do you think is right? It's your LinkedIn account, and your network, so how long is acceptable to you?

  • Indeed, LI doesn't notify you when someone disconnects from you. – GreenMatt Feb 24 '13 at 13:38
  • 1
    This is good info and I appreciate it. – jdb1a1 Feb 24 '13 at 14:48

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