What happens to your Facebook account when you die, or when someone you love dies? For a long time now, people all around the world have been petitioning the powers that be at Facebook for access to a deceased person’s Facebook account.
Now, Facebook has finally made this possible (in the US at least). The company has created something called a ‘Legacy Contact,’ that allows one designated person to take control of a person’s Facebook account after death.
Final Posts and Pictures
You have to name the person that you would want to take over your account beforehand, but once you die, that person can add one final post to your page. Additionally, that person can post profile and cover photos, manage friend request lists, and archive any content. It will also be possible for your Legacy Contact to download any photos or posts that you’ve added to your Facebook page in the past, though this person will not have access to private messages.
Prior to the change in Facebook law, dormant accounts were either frozen or deleted. Typically, if the account belonged to a famous person or to someone that died tragically, the account remains intact as a sort of memorial. If the person was unknown, the account was deleted. This is the way that some dormant Facebook accounts will remain in Canada and across Europe, but those within the US will be able to name a Legacy Contact starting today.
The only other way to make sure that someone takes over a Facebook account is to include a “digital heir” in a will. Facebook (and other social networks) must abide by this clause, so make sure to add it if you don’t live in the US, and you want to name someone to take over your account when you die. It might be a morbid thought, but naming someone to man your Facebook account once you pass away might also be important to those remaining.
Sometimes, people will look for a deceased person’s Facebook account in order to pay last respects, and some people may not know that a person has died, and will look for that person through Facebook. An account that clearly states what happened to that person, includes some photographs, and provides closure to those that need it is important to a lot of people.
This is why Facebook has decided to make naming a Legacy Contact possible. It’s also worth pointing out that most people today document every aspect of life through social networks, so gathering up the pieces of a person’s life is much easier to do through a site like Facebook. Plus, this way, family members can download photographs to add to a photo album.
In Other Countries
Facebook is first focusing on the US where the new Legacy Contact setting is concerned, but (presumably) the company will roll out the program to other parts of the world where people use Facebook regularly soon. If you do live in the US, check your settings for access to the Legacy Contact information. You should be able to name the person you’d like to take over from your settings page.