The death of somebody on Facebook has, until now, been an area in which it has usually been the family members of the deceased who have chosen what happens to the users Facebook profile after their death.
But now Facebook are attempting to address the issue by giving users a set of protocols that allows them to make a ‘living will’ for their social media profile.
According to their announcement:
Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:
- Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
- Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.
“This really grew out of seeing how people use Facebook for this purpose already,” said Andy Stone, who handles policy communications for the site. “We’ve seen people use Facebook to grieve a person who has passed away, to remember that person, and to celebrate their life. It became clear to us that we could do more to support those who were grieving.”
In addition to creating a new legacy contact, Facebook has also tweaked their settings to remove deceased users from their “People You May Know” links and birthday calendars. Anyone wishing to use the settings can opt-in, Stone said. Right now, the option is only available in the United States.