When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, dealing with the question of what happens to someone’s Facebook profile after their death was probably one of the last things on his mind. However, as Facebook has grown in popularity, it’s a question that comes up more often than we’d like to think. Accounts can be memorialized, but now Facebook has gone one step further by allowing users to choose a “legacy contact,” who will take care of their profile after their death.
Users can designate a legacy contact in Facebook’s settings, so as to ensure that someone they trust can take care of their account. After you’ve gone through the process, Facebook will prompt you to message your chosen friend, so they know what they’ve been asked to do in the event of your death. You can change or remove your legacy contact at any time. It may sound morbid, but much like a will, setting up a legacy contact is a way to manage your digital life once you’ve passed on.
Your chosen friend will only take over your profile in a limited way, though, and your account must be memorialized first. As such, the friend or family member must go through the memorialization process, which includes showing proof of your death via an obituary or other documentation.
Once a Facebook user has died, Facebook has their obituary, and their account has been memorialized; the legacy contact will be able to take the following actions on their deceased friends’ profile:
- Write a pinned post for the profile to share news of a memorial service, a last message, or some other information
- Respond to new friend requests, so as to allow access to those who want to remember their friend through the profile
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
Facebook won’t allow the legacy contact to log into your account to delete posts, pictures, friends, or other info, nor will it allow the contact to read your private messages.
The main purpose of the legacy contact option is to make it easier for friends and family members to contact one another about funeral arrangements, memorial services, and other key information. In addition to the memorialized account option, the legacy contact setup process is intended to make it easier for Facebook users to remember their lost friend in a positive way, while also helping users to grieve together. For more information on how to set up a legacy contact or memorialize a lost loved ones’ account, check out Facebook’s support page.