Who do you trust to oversee your Facebook account when you move on to greener pastures? Facebook introduced a new feature, legacy contacts, which allows users to prepare last wills and testaments for their Timelines.
Facebook had already been memorializing accounts when the social network was informed of users’ deaths, but the new legacy contacts feature gives users more say over what happens to their profiles when they are no longer around.
Users can now choose family members or friends to handle tasks such as writing the posts that will be pinned to the top of memorialized Timelines, responding to friend requests and updating profile pictures and cover images.
Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch, content strategist Jasmine Probst and software engineer Mark Govea introduced legacy contacts in a Newsroom post:
Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family. For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honor those we’ve lost. When a person passes away, their account can become a memorial of their life, friendships and experiences.
Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact — a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will 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.
Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.
Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialized account that 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.
We’ve 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.
We’re introducing legacy contacts in the U.S. first and look forward to expanding to more countries. Setting up a legacy contact is completely optional.
Callison-Burch, Probst and Govea also provided instructions for how to set up legacy contacts:
- Open your settings. Choose security and then legacy contact at the bottom of the page.
- After choosing your legacy contact, you’ll have the option to send a message to that person.
- You may give your legacy contact permission to download an archive of the posts, photos and profile info you’ve shared on Facebook.
A post in Facebook’s Help Center also provided more clarity on what legacy contacts can and can’t do:
A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it’s memorialized. Once your account is memorialized, your legacy contact will have the option to do things like:
- Write a pinned post for your profile (ex: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service).
- Respond to new friend requests (ex: old friends or family members who weren’t yet on Facebook).
- Update your profile picture and cover photo.
You also have the option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, and we may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in the future.
Your legacy contact can’t:
- Log into your account.
- Remove or change past posts, photos and other things shared on your Timeline.
- Read messages you’ve sent to other friends.
- Remove any of your friends.
Readers: Who would you choose as your legacy contacts?