Facebook allowing users to designate 'executor' of profile upon death

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Thursday, February 12, 2015
facebook death
Legacy Timeline Example
Courtesy of Facebook

In life, Facebook is a go-to place for many to share with friends and family. But what happens to your profile when you die? Now, Facebook is giving users a say in that.

Facebook is announcing Thursday the option to designate an estate executor - someone who can log into your profile after your death, make a final post, approve friend requests, memorialize the page, and more.

Users will choose what Facebook calls a "legacy contact" - a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once Facebook is told that a person has passed away, they 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, a Facebook release said.

Users can let Facebook know if they'd prefer to have their account permanently deleted after death.

"Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialized account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone. By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death," the release said.

Here's how to choose a legacy contact:

Legacy Contact Settings

1. Open your settings. Choose Security and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page.

2. After choosing your legacy contact, you'll have the option to send a message to that person.

3. You may give your legacy contact permission to download an archive of the posts, photos and profile info you've shared on Facebook.

Facebook also redesigned memorialized profiles to pay tribute to the deceased by adding "Remembering" above their name and making it possible for their legacy contact to pin a post to the top of their Timeline.

Facebook is introducing legacy contacts in the U.S. first and hopes to expand to more countries. Setting up a legacy contact is optional.

"Our team at Facebook is grateful and humbled to be working on these improvements. We hope this work will help people experience loss with a greater sense of possibility, comfort and support," the release said.