Today, drafting a will and making plans for the future often involves paying some attention to your digital life—specifically, your social media accounts. Now, Facebook has introduced a new feature: a legacy contact, a person who can assume responsibility for your Facebook page after your death.
When someone passes away, Facebook memorializes and freezes the account. The word “Remembering” appears before the person’s name, and his or her profile no longer appears on birthdays or other public pages. The legacy contact is a designated friend or family member who can download an archive of your Facebook photos, update your profile picture and cover photo, respond to friend requests, and write a post at the top of your timeline to notify friends of memorial services or share a message from the family. This person cannot log into your Facebook and see your message history or any private information—they just have permission to maintain your account. If you’d rather have your Facebook account permanently deleted, there is an option for that as well.
Last year, the government encouraged people to write digital wills—this involves designating someone as your “online executor,” drafting a document with all usernames and passwords, and identifying how you want each account handled. Facebook’s legacy contact is meant to “support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death,” according to an explanation posted on Thursday.
If you’re interested in designating a legacy contact, visit Facebook’s newsroom for the instructions.