Facebook legacy contacts were introduced to the US in February and now Facebook users in Europe can assign a contact to manage their profile when they die.
By assigning a legacy contact, Facebook users appoint an ‘online executor’ of their profile, giving this person the power to manage their profile after their death.
The legacy contact can’t log in to the dead user’s account, but instead they can perform a limited set of duties such as writing one final post for the user’s timeline, updating the cover and profile photos, and – rather strangely – approving new friend requests.
Users can also opt to give their ‘heir’ permission to download an archive of the account, including photos, posts and the profile information shared with Facebook.
A legacy contact will not be able to remove or edit old posts or other things shared to Facebook, nor can they read personal messages or remove friends.
With more than 1.44bn Facebook users worldwide, the social network claims it has had hundreds of thousands of requests for this feature, but the responsibility remains with users to apply the settings that are right for them.
What happens to your Facebook profile when you die?
The onus is on users to inform Facebook what they would like to happen to their profile after they die, and there are two options: memorialise or delete.
When a Facebook account is memorialised, the word ‘Remembering’ appears before the person’s name on their profile.
Friends and connections will still be able to post to the memorialised user’s timeline in accordance with their privacy and audience settings, and the content the user shared previously remains visible to the audience it was shared with.
Unless you’ve given out your login details, there’s no way someone can log into your account after you die.
Facebook is prudent not to treat memorialised profiles as it does ‘live’ profiles, so these users won’t turn up in birthday reminders or as friend suggestions.
If the memorialised account is the administrator of a Facebook group, the group will be advised to select a new admin. If the memorialised account is the sole administrator of a Facebook page, the page will be removed from Facebook if a valid request is made.
Unless you’ve given out your login details, there’s no way someone can log into your account after you die. Therefore, a memorialised account will remain as is unless managed by a legacy contact.
Legacy contacts can be appointed by users aged 18 or older and their powers are limited to those explained above, although Facebook may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in future.
Of course, if all that is unnecessary, the user can simply instruct Facebook to permanently delete the account after they die.
Gravestone image by Jeff Wasserman via Shutterstock