Facebook now lets you choose a digital heir

Since its inception, Facebook has been struggling with what to do when one of its subscribers passes away. In the past, their general approach was to either lock the profile when they discovered its owner has died, causing grief for those left behind at one of the most difficult times a person faces, delete the account or convert it into a memorial. The latter would remove personal information, status updates, and only allow friends to post on the wall of the deceased.

Now, Facebook is allowing you to choose what they refer to as a “Legacy Contact,” who can take control, in some ways, of your profile. They won’t be able to see your messages or remove friends, but they will be able to respond to friend requests, as well as make a header post on your profile and update the main photos. You have to let Facebook know that the person has died, and the person chosen as the legacy contact won’t know they have been chosen until after the person who chose them has made their way to the great beyond. There’s no doubt that memorializing and Facebook itself can be one way to help people grieve.

What happens to social media profiles in the case of death has been an issue for a long time, and every social media site deals with it in their own way. Twitter, for example, only allows for an account to be deactivated, and their policy on this explicitly states that they will not give anyone access to a deceased’s account, regardless of their relation to the person (although in some cases they have).

I deactivated my Facebook account almost a year ago for reasons I detailed extensively on this post. However, considering over a billion people use it, and that it is *the* social network, I’m surprised it took so long for them to implement something of this sort.

Specifics can be found on this Facebook page.

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