News Update: Death, Facebook and Legacy Contacts

Facebook recently unveiled a new feature where you can choose who will manage your Facebook profile after your death. The new feature is called “Legacy Contact” and users can choose who will control various Facebook features after it is memorialized. The feature isn’t available in all countries yet but is expected to roll out across the globe in a few months.

Back in 2012, I was a guest on The Current, a CBC radio program talking about this very subject. In the Digital Afterlife: Facebook After Death, Maria Tremonti and I discussed my own personal experiences and what Facebook had to offer grieving families. 

Currently, when you pass away, your friends and family can request that your account be memorialized. The key features of this type of account include:

  • The word Remembering will be displayed next to the person’s name
  • Friends can share memories on the person’s timeline depending on the privacy settings on the account
  • Content the person shared stays visible to the audience it was shared with
  • These profiles don’t appear in suggestions for People You May Know or Birthday Reminders

The new Legacy Contact feature appears in Facebook’s security settings (U.S. only at the moment). From there, you can select a Facebook friend who will be able to change certain key elements of your account including your cover photo and personal profile photo. He or she can also pin posts to the top of your newsfeed. Your legacy contact can also download all of your pictures if desired. This was the one feature I was longing for back in 2007 when my husband passed away.

Facebook said it’s introducing the new legacy contact feature to provide a way for friends and family to manage their loved one’s accounts.

“Family members will tell us ‘I really want to communicate information about the memorial service with this person’s friends.’ The idea of a pinned post comes from there.” says Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch. She goes on to say that people don’t think about this feature very much until they actually experience a loss.

Will you be assigning a legacy contact?

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