A few months ago, a friend of mine passed away. The first thing I did was visit her Facebook page, where others had posted comments in her memory. Her mom even let everyone know about the upcoming memorial by posting comments on her page.
This strange new way of communicating about the deceased struck a chord with me. Isn’t it weird that there is this new type of social content that we must now deal with before we die?
Facebook’s policy on the deceased is to allow loved ones to memorialize a Facebook page. This allows the page to exist with pictures and status updates still viewable, but it locks the account so that it can’t be accessed by anyone.
Until this week, memorializing a Facebook account meant that anyone and everyone was locked out, even the person who initiated the process. Pictures, videos, and personal messages were all locked away from spouses, parents, children; everyone.
It was as if you went into to your grandfather’s room to clean out his old stuff and there was a box of pictures hidden under the bed. Only the box is locked and Facebook is holding the key.
Now, Facebook has updated their policy on memorialization that will allow a living person to designate a trustee to take care of a Facebook page after passing away. It is called a Legacy Contact, and anyone can have one. You just have to add a person as a Legacy Contact in your security settings.
The Legacy Contact will be able to write a post that is displayed at the top of the memorialized Timeline, respond to new friend request from family members and friends, and update the profile picture and cover photo.
The most important part is that you can allow your Legacy Contact to have permission to download an archive of the photos, posts, and profile information before it gets locked down.
Similar to the current policy, once an account is memorialized, no one, not even the Legacy Contact will be able to log into the account, even with the password.
If you want more control over who can access your Facebook account after you die, you should consider skipping the memorialization process altogether. You’ll have to let all of your friends and family know about your decision, though. Once Facebook gets word of your passing, there is nothing that can be done about it without involving the courts.
My friend’s family chose to leave her Facebook page live. I can tell because I recently received a birthday reminder, and whenever I select friends to invite to an event, her name still appears.
I should also point out that your Legacy Contact must have a Facebook account. My partner does not have one, so I will have to designate my mom or brother, instead.