What happens to your Facebook profile when you die has long been an important, if controversial, issue. Now, the social network is going to let you designate a "legacy contact" to take care of your profile when you die.
The Wall Street Journal reports that it is to finally allow a person of your choosing to manage certain aspects of a user's account posthumously. Facebook's policy till now has been to freeze your account upon death – allowing it to serve, it claimed, as a memorial. But in reality it was probably a neat solution to the worrying privacy implications of allowing someone else access to the profile. Understandably, the policy upset and angered some people who'd lost loved ones.
But starting today in the US, a designated Facebook legacy contact will be able to manage an account so that it can be turned into a more appropriate memorial (it will roll-out internationally in the coming months). Those trusted with the responsibility will be able to write a post that's displayed at the top of the profile, change profile images on the page and, er, even respond to new friend requests on behalf of the deceased. That last one does, admittedly, sound a little weird, but not to worry. Prior permission will also allow them to download an archive of posts and photos (but not private messages).
However, the legacy contact won't be able to edit what the deceased already posted, what friends continue to post on the page, or remove tagged images. Nor will they be able to delete the account.
To choose a legacy contact, US users can head into Settings, choose Security, then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page. There, they designate an existing Facebook friend and grant them permissions. Only one person can be chosen – there's no emergency back-up in case you both meet a sticky end together. If a legacy contact isn't chosen on Facebook but you have named a digital heir in your will, Facebook will designate that person when they're told about it.
It's quite something that Facebook is now such an integral part of our lives that this is all a thing. But it's nice to see that the social network is, finally, taking it so seriously. We presume it finally got round to watching Black Mirror. [WSJ]
Image by Franco Bouly under Creative Commons license