Ever since mankind evolved to be self-aware we have pondered what happens when we die. The Internet and social networks have added a whole new facet to that timeless question: what happens to our digital identity when we die?
Facebook has an answer. A new feature called legacy contact was introduced this week. It enables you to choose what happens to your Facebook profile in the event of your death, and allows you to designate someone to manage your Facebook account after you’re gone.
I wrote a post about the new legacy contact feature, and how to set it up:
People write wills to designate who should receive their material possessions upon their death. What happens to your digital possessions, though? How will people know which team you cheered for in Super Bowl XLIX, or your opinion on the Net Neutrality debate after you’re gone? Facebook launched a new feature called Legacy that lets you assign someone to manage your account when you’re dead.
Up to now, Facebook has managed the death of members by simply freezing the account. The Facebook profile still existed, but nothing new could be added and nobody actually had access to control or manage it. The legacy contact is a much more elegant and sympathetic way for Facebook to address the death of a member.
Legacy contact has limited power
Before the legacy contact is activated, Facebook has to verify that you’re actually dead and memorialize your Facebook account. A family member or friend must notify Facebook that you’re deceased and provide proof, such as an obituary, death certificate, or some other documentation indicating you’ve died.
The Facebook legacy contact can write a post that will be pinned to the top of the profile as an announcement of a memorial service or funeral proceedings, a final message, or any other information they wish to share. The legacy contact can also respond to new friend requests and change or update the profile and cover photos.
You’re not simply handing over your Facebook profile, though. There are also things the legacy contact can’t do. The legacy contact will not be able to delete posts or pictures, or remove friends. They will also not be able to access or view any of your private messages in Facebook Messenger.
Choose a Facebook Legacy Contact
To assign a legacy contact for your Facebook account click on the arrow at the upper right of Web page and select Settings. Then click Security in the left pane and you will see Legacy Contact listed at the bottom. You can edit the legacy contact setting to designate a family member or close friend to manage your account in the event of your untimely demise. There is a checkbox to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of your Facebook posts, photos, videos, and information from the “About” section of your profile. You also have the option of simply having Facebook permanently delete your account rather than selecting a legacy contact.
Read more about Facebook legacy contacts and how to set it up at Forbes: Facebook ‘Legacy Contact’ Lets You Decide What Happens To Your Social Network When You Die.
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