Was Bad PR Behind Facebook’s ‘Legacy Contact’ Decision?

Who needs tombstones when you have Facebook?

facebook legacy accountICYMI: Last week, Facebook announced a new, novel idea — the “legacy contact.”

This enigmatic soul will be the friend or family member who acts as your Facebook estate executor and manages your account after your own. That’s right, Zuckerberg moved one step closer to immortality.

Is this the future of social media? Are accounts, intellectual property, and friends/followers so sacrosanct that they require a space in your will?

WSJ discussed what may have been the crux of this amaranthine decision — bad PR:

“Facebook and other Internet services walk a difficult tightrope between respecting the privacy of the deceased and the demands of grieving friends and family. Previously, Facebook automatically froze the accounts of members it learned had died, angering some heirs who wanted to edit the deceased’s online presence. It will roll out the new options to members in the U.S. on Thursday, with others to follow later.”

Decisions brought about by a PR crisis can be a good thing — ask Tylenol (and Burson-Marsteller) about that one. However, when headlines inspire rash decisions the results often look the part.

Facebook slams the door on grieving family members, and now we have a legacy. Will this idea live on?

The idea is for someone to be designated as a Facebook legacy contact to manage an account so that it can be turned into a more appropriate memorial. The obituary has gone the way of print circulation, so why not?

legacy contact screen grab

These new legacy folks will now have the ability to write a post that’s displayed at the top of the profile, change profile images on the page, and what else… oh yeah, they can accept friend requests on behalf of the deceased.

Does this open the crypt doors for other social media platforms? Is there an heirloom tweeter on the horizon? What about an endowment YouTuber? A birthright Snapchater? Eww.

While all of this is a little creepy (even for the world of PR), it’s social media as usual. Sort of.

(Photo mash-up credit: AFGeeks.com)