Facebook will now let you appoint a digital executor to your social media account for when you pass away. Earlier this year, Facebook announced it would be creating a feature called “legacy contacts”. This meant that any of the 35 million UK Facebook users would be able to appoint a friend or loved one to maintain their social media account after they die.
As of today, the feature is now live in the UK – meaning you can appoint your social media heir today. If you want your account to be deleted upon your death, you can flick that switch too – although someone will still need to inform Facebook that you’ve moved on. Facebook’s previous policy was to freeze a profile upon death allowing them to serve, they claimed, as a memorial.
The network, which has almost 1.4 billion users worldwide, had received “hundreds of thousands” of requests since it began “memorialising” pages of those who had died in 2007. Anyone nominated as a legacy contact will be able to write a post that’s displayed at the top of the profile and change profile images on the page. They will even be allowed to accept or refuse new friend requests on behalf of the deceased.
The online executor will however not be able to edit what the deceased already posted, what friends continue to post on the page, or remove tagged images. Nor will they be able to delete the account. “We try to make it clear that the legacy contact won’t post as you. It’s a caretaker – only acting on your behalf in very specific ways,” Facebook’s product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch, told Mirror Online.
The legacy contact may be able to monitor your account, but any private messages will not be passed on. “We respect the privacy of all those contacts. It didn’t make sense to include those messages,” Callison-Burch said. Facebook pages after death are not without their controversy. Earlier this year, the social network pulled down the profile of Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz following the tragedy in the French Alps.
Feasibly, it could fall to the legacy contact to deal with such an issue – if a controversial page is memorialised. But the social network says it is staying at arm’s length. “Facebook as a company isn’t in the position to make decisions on behalf of the account holder – or their family,” said Callison-Burch. Facebook has issued a five step guide to naming loved ones as legacy contacts.
To name a friend or relative, just click the options button in the top right, select the security option and then type in someone’s name. Click Add and then the message button, which will send your chosen person an message, giving them the right to edit your page in the event of your death.