When a Facebook user dies, their page often becomes a memorial, frozen in time. Now members can designate someone to manage their account posthumously, Facebook said today.
The designated person is called a "legacy contact" and will be able to do things like write a memorial post on the person's page, respond to friend requests, and update the person's profile picture.
The legacy contact can also download an archive of the person's photos, posts, and profile information, and add a note to the top that says "remembering," but will not be able to see the deceased's private messages. The service is currently only available in the U.S.
Legacy contacts still can't delete embarrassing photos, edit posts that the deceased wrote, or delete the account entirely, policies that spokesperson Jodi Seth told the Wall Street Journal took "a lot of thought."
They decided against those privileges because being able to curate the person's page "might add an extra emotional load to grieving," the Journal reported.
Facebook formerly would freeze members' accounts when they died, which angered some who wanted access to their relative's page.
If a person does not choose a legacy contact, Facebook will continue to freeze the person's account and leave everything as it was, which it calls memorialization. Ads are not shown on these pages.
Google was the first to allow "digital heirs" in 2013, called inactive account managers, who can access things like a user's Gmail or cloud storage.
You can choose a legacy contact by going to Settings > Security > Legacy Contact. Only one person can be chosen, and they can't pass on the responsibility to someone else, so choose wisely.
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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