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Facebook - Who Inherits Your Profile After Death?

Facebook Grants Digital Immortality

Following an outcry from relatives for access to their deceased relatives social media, Facebook has unveiled a new ‘legacy contact’ feature that allows users to choose a manager or ‘steward’ for their accounts after they pass.


Up until this point, when Facebook was notified of a death they memorialised the account, allowing it to be viewed but not edited. The new update will grant an assigned contact the ability to post an obituary, update information such as profile and cover photos, respond to new friend requests and moderate posts and messages left on the profile. Additional permission can be given that permits the contact to download an archive of posts and profile details, although this does not include private messages.

Some features are still blocked, even for your legacy contact. They will be unable to remove or edit existing posts, untag photos or delete the account. For those that haven’t designated a steward at the time of passing, anyone named in your will as heir to your digital assets will be set as your legacy 
contact. You also have the option to set your profile to be deleted, rather than archived and managed. The option to assign a legacy contact or set your account for deletion is found within the security section of your settings tab.

Jed Brubaker (candidate in informatics at University of California, Irvine) is one of the many people greatly endorsing the recent update, publicly commenting as such:

“Memorialised profiles can be unsettling, particularly right after someone dies. It’s not always clear that someone has died, and details can get buried in the flood of messages that friends post. This concept of stewardship centers on individuals caring for accounts and data they do not own. People’s social media identities persist after they die, and even though no one is managing their profiles, others continue to use these spaces. The most gratifying aspect of Facebook’s new features is knowing that these changes will make Facebook a more supportive space for people during challenging times.”

Facebook product developers made use of Brubaker’s recommendations when designing and implementing the new feature.

Along with this substantial feature update, Facebook is also adjusting how it manages memorial accounts. The prefix ‘Remembering’ will be added before the person’s name in order to provide extra clarity, which Facebook hopes will help to provide a more supportive environment for mourners.

Although I myself find the notion of my online profiles living on long after I’m gone to be a little weird and unnerving, it has been documented in the past that these memorial accounts provide a measure of comfort for mourners, as well as giving friends and families a space to reminisce and support each other through an exceptionally traumatic time.

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working part time as a content writer, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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Facebook - Who Inherits Your Profile After Death? Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 Rating: 5
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