For many of us, the internet is a way to connect with family and friends. Social media sites are a primary way of viewing photos, catching up on the latest gossip and getting invitations to events. We use email to send lengthy letters or quick notes. We check webpages from our favourite bands, sports teams or hobbies…
But what happens when the website becomes obsolete or the person in charge can no longer maintain it? And what if that site is strongly tied to an individual identity? Facebook is tackling this problem by creating Legacy Contacts for memorialized accounts.
First, a memorialised account is an adjustment already available to any Facebook account. Changes to a memorialised account include adding “Remembering” above the name of the deceased, removing the page from public space such as “People You May Know” suggestions and birthday reminders, and groups who had the deceased as an admin will be allowed to choose a new admin. Depending on the security settings of the account, family and friends may be able to continue posting to the timeline and wall of the deceased.
To memorialise the account of a loved one, go to Facebook and into the menu in the top right corner. In that menu there is a “Help” option. On the “Help” page is a search bar. Type in “How do I memorialise an account.” The instructions will appear as one of the first links in the search results. You don’t need to provide proof of death to memorialise an account, but it does speed up the process, and after some high-profile prank-driven mistakes Facebook is now hopefully more wary of writing off people who are in fact very much alive! Proof of death could include a death certificate or a photo of the obituary.
Once an account is memorialised, has always been that it can no longer be accessed. Facebook will not give out access information to a memorialised account, not even for verified family members. After receiving feedback on this process, Facebook is now updating its policies to include a Legacy Contact.
A Legacy Contact is a person assigned by the living individual to take over management of their Facebook page after their death. The Legacy Contact can create a post that will stay at the top of the deceased’s wall and timeline, respond to friend requests and change the deceased’s profile and cover photo. The Legacy Contact cannot read private messages or delete posts or photos.
This functionality is still rolling out and not yet available everywhere, but should come to us in Europe soon. To create a Legacy Contact on your Facebook, go to the drop down menu in the top right corner. Under “Settings” go the “Security” menu on the left. Click on the “Legacy Contact” at the bottom of the list of security options. Type in the name of the friend you’d like to manage your account when you pass away. This friend must have a Facebook profile and must be friends with you on Facebook. They will receive a message saying they are your Legacy Contact.
Below the person you’ve set as your Legacy Contact is a check box labelled “Data Archive Permission.” This is an optional box that allows your Legacy Contact to download your photos, videos, posts and profile from Facebook. You may choose to do this to allow loved ones to view and share photos, videos and memories with friends and family who do not have Facebook, or you may choose to keep your content solely for use by friends and family on Facebook.
If all of this seems like a bizarre memorial to you and you’d prefer not to have any of this happen, you can set your profile to be deleted when you die. When a family or friend sends Facebook a report of your death, your profile, photos, videos and timeline will be permanently deleted from Facebook. To set this, go to the menu in the top right of the Facebook screen and into “Settings.” Go to “Security” in the left menu and down to “Legacy Contact” in the “Security” menu. Below the place to set a Legacy Contact is a line in bold that says, “Account Deletion.” Click the check box there to have your account permanently deleted after your death.
If you’d like to create a place for friends and family to share memories of a loved one but either don’t have a Legacy Contact or the deceased has deleted their account, remember you can always create a private group on Facebook for that purpose.
Previous generations haven’t really had to worry about their digital legacy or assets, but for most of us now living we actually have quite a lot to think about – digital products such as music and books, password accesses, even access to assets like a Paypal balance. Have you got a plan for making sure these are accessible to the right person? This is a topic we will return to soon!
Guest post: G Gadea
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, April 3rd 2015, Casslar Consulting SL