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Twitter: 'My boyfriend died but I still like to read his tweets'

Adam Parker and Dean EastmondImage copyright
Gavin Lomas

“I just can’t imagine how I’d feel if I saw somebody else with Dean’s handle.”

Adam Parker’s boyfriend Dean Eastmond died from cancer at the age of 21 in September 2017. They’d been dating for two years.

The couple first spoke on Twitter when Adam sent a message to Dean to tell him how cute a photo of his cat was.

And since Dean’s death, Adam has used his boyfriend’s tweets to remember him.

“Grief is complex, strange and it works in different ways,” the 25-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“I certainly do check back – particularly in the last month or so – with his tweets just to see what was going through Dean’s head at that time of his life.

“It depends what kind of feelings of grief and bereavement I’m feeling on a day-to-day basis.”

Earlier this week, Twitter revealed it was planning to remove inactive Twitter accounts and “free up” usernames.

It led to a backlash from people like Adam who didn’t want the accounts of loved ones who had died being deleted.

Yesterday, Twitter announced it was pausing the plan until a process for “memorialising” users’ accounts was in place – which Adam says is “good news”.

“Hopefully we can start to think through how we can respect accounts of the deceased and archive the historical data of those we’ve lost,” he tweeted the company afterwards.

Image copyright
Amanda Eastmond

Image caption

Dean was a journalist who launched LGBTQ+ website His Kind before his death

Dean was diagnosed with with Ewing’s Sarcoma – a rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer – in 2016.

He was the editor of magazine HISKIND and also wrote lots of posts on Twitter about the realities of living with the disease.

During his life, he was sent messages of support from loads of celebrities including Nicole Scherzinger and stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race – who shared photos with the message “Dean Eastmond slays.”

Adam says it’s moments like these he wants to revisit and remember.

“There are big memories and moments that were mediated and helped through Twitter,” he tells Newsbeat.

“It’s those types of things that I would like to preserve on social media.”

He also says there should be more awareness about what to do with someone’s profiles when they die.

“It should be widely acknowledged that this is an issue,” says Adam.

“Until you actually get confronted with somebody passing away and you want to access a social media, it’s not something that you necessarily think about.”

What happens to someone’s social media account when they die?

Twitter is able to shut down the account of someone who has died, if their family asks and can provide proof of their identity.

Facebook “memorialises” pages and makes sure no-one is able to log into an account that is known to belong to someone who has died.

Instagram does the same, and says it will try and stop anything posted by the owner from when they were alive appearing in ways that may upset their family.

You can find information and support on dealing with grief and bereavement by visiting the BBC advice page.

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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.


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