Facebook’s Legacy Contact

Charles W. Brown Jr.

Good news! Thanks to a recent policy change, you can now update your Facebook page after you pass away. Well, to be more accurate, you can select someone to update your page after you pass. In response to a high number of requests, Facebook has created the option to allow users to designate a “Legacy Contact” to manage your account after your death.

Formerly, a deceased user’s family could request either that Facebook memorialize the user’s profile or delete the account. The requester was required to provide proof of death before Facebook would act. If requested, Facebook would convert the deceased user’s page to a memorial page after confirmation was received. That allowed the contents of the page to remain visible and friends to share to the deceased user’s timeline. However, Facebook retained full control of the data within the account, and family members were not permitted to download any of the deceased user’s files, such as photographs or shared content.

This is no longer the case. As of February 12, 2015, a Facebook user can designate a Legacy Contact for their account. Once an account has been memorialized, a Legacy Contact may access the account for limited purposes. These include sharing a final message, providing information on funeral services, responding to unanswered friend requests, updating the cover/profile picture, and, if specified, downloading an archive of a user’s shared content. A Legacy Contact cannot, however, log into the deceased user’s account, change or remove posts, read the deceased user’s messages, or delete friends from the account.

The accountholder must designate another Facebook user to act as the Legacy Contact during his or her lifetime. Facebook will not assign a Legacy Contact after a user’s death. Users can assign a Legacy Contact from Facebook’s Security tab on the Settings page. The user may also opt to have his or her account deleted upon confirmation of death. This will result in the loss of all content saved on the user’s profile.

As more and more of our lives take place online, websites such as Facebook are becoming more than simply a social media site. It is our digital photo album and online diary. Our family members may wish to preserve that information just as they would preserve an actual photo album. Users need to consider what will become of these things when they pass away. Allowing a Legacy Contact to access your Facebook page may be one step to help preserve and honor your memory.

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