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24 Rabi al-Thani 1443  ,  29 November 2021

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Search Fatawaa


Subject : Ruling on Using Social Media Accounts After the Death of their Owners

Fatwa Number : 3599

Date : 25-02-2021

Classified : Miscellaneous Fatwas

Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa


Question :

 I noticed that the accounts of my deceased friends are being used or taken by their heirs. Is this considered an invasion of privacy? And is having them by the heirs considered legal from Sharia perspective?



The Answer :

 


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.

The impermissibility of impersonation is a moral, legal and Sharia’s principle; thusly, impersonation the  of the deceased or having conversations with others on his behalf is impermissible since person’s speech or action is to be attributed to him not to others which is one of the basics in terms of accountability, because Allah, The Exalted, said (What means) :” That no laden one shall bear another’s load,(38)And that man hath only that for which he maketh effort, (39)And that his effort will be seen, (40). [An-Najm] in addition, He said (What means) :” Evey soul is pledge for its own deeds. “ [Al-Muddaththir/38].

What should be observed here that this issue is referred to the Website private policy at the death of their clients; on one hand, if it permits the transfer of the latter’s accounts management to others, then there is no harm in it according to Sharia so long as deceased’s impersonation isn’t involved, nor it(Deceased’s account) is given exclusively to one of the heirs (especially if this would cause damage to others), the adherence of all teachings of Sharia while managing it, public morals and attiquitties are observed, announcing the death of the account owner and its transfer to a new owner.

On the other hand, if their policy doesn’t permit ownership transfer, then fraud for the purpose of having the account after the death of its owner is impermissible.

It worth noting that a person should distinguish between the rulings of social media accounts and financial ones that have a value, copyright or patent rights with incomes  or might be benefitted from financially through their content. Accordingly, the trade name is one of the rights protected by Sharia, and has a material value according to contemporary jurisprudence.

On its part, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy has issued resolution No.(43, 5/5) as regards incorporeal rights, and it states:

“First: Trade name, corporate name, trade mark, authorship and invention are rights to whom they belong and-in modern custom-they are of considerable material value from which money is generated. In light of Sharia, these rights are considerable. Therefore, any transgression against them is impermissible.”

In conclusion, humans have their own considerable personalities during their lifetime as well after death and this right is protected by both, Sharia and the basic law. Further, adhering to it is a moral commitment out of  person’s responsibility towards others; since in principle, none is permitted to use or have the deceased’s account whether it was a social media account or any other account nor to violate this right save in a certain and regulated circumstances without transgressing the issued principle and  so long as no damage is inflicted upon others. And Allah knows best.




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