Modern day society means social media. But what happens to your, a friends, family or a loved one’s social media accounts when they die?
For many, seeing a social media account of someone who has passed away (whether recently or not) can be upsetting for grieving family, friends and relatives. That can then be made worse by automated updates and features which can occur; such as birthday reminders.
Other people, however, may find it comforting to see old photos, video clips and memories of a friend or loved one; with the person almost living on forever in cyberspace.
Either way, it’s important to know what can be done with social media accounts when someone dies.
We previously wrote a blog about “What happens to my social media when I die?”, covering various social platforms. In this blog we are focussing on Facebook and appointing a ‘Legacy Contact’.
What is a “Legacy Contact”?
If you are thinking about planning ahead for when you’re no longer here, you can appoint a friend or family member to look after your account. You can choose to either appoint a legacy contact to look after your memorialised account or have your account permanently deleted from Facebook.
This person is your legacy contact, and they’ll be allowed to have limited access to your account after your death.
What can a Legacy Contact do with my account?
- Write a pinned post for your profile (example: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service).
- View posts, even if you had set your privacy to Only Me.
- Decide who can see and who can post tributes, if the memorialised account has an area for tributes.
- Delete tribute posts.
- Change who can see posts that you’re tagged in.
- Remove tags of you that someone else has posted.
- Respond to new friend requests (example: old friends or family members who weren’t yet on Facebook).
- Update your profile picture and cover photo.
- Request the removal of your account.
- Turn off the requirement to review posts and tags before they appear in the tributes section, if you had timeline review turned on.
- Download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook (if you have this feature turned on).
Facebook have said they “may add more capabilities for legacy contacts in the future.”
Your Legacy Contact can’t:
- Log into your account.
- Read your messages.
- Remove any of your friends or make new friend requests.
If you’re a legacy contact, learn how to manage a memorialised profile.
Note: You must be 18 or older to select a legacy contact.
How do I set up a Legacy Contact?
To designate a legacy contact, follow these steps:
- Go to your settings
- Under the “general” tab, you’ll find an option “Manage account.” This is where you can also deactivate your account while you’re still alive, as well.
- From this page, you can select which of your friends (and you must be Facebook friends with them) you want to be your legacy contact.
- Once you choose a friend, Facebook sends the friend an email explaining that you’ve selected them and what this means.
If you don’t want your profile to be memorialised, you can also request that your account be deleted once proof of your death is submitted. This option is also available on the Manage account page.
Other things to consider…what happens next:
So, what happens to your account after you die, assuming you’ve nominated a legacy contact?
Firstly, someone will have to submit proof of your death to Facebook. To do this, they fill out a memorialisation form, and include an obituary.
Once a request has been processed, the account will be memorialised, and the legacy contact is allowed access.
A memorialised account is marked by the word “Remembering” over the person’s name. Accounts without a legacy contact can’t be modified.
It’s important to note that a family member (anyone with authority over your estate, not just the legacy contact) can also request the account’s deletion, rather than memorialisation. According to Facebook Support, you must submit a scan of the death certificate, or, if you don’t have it, an obituary and proof of authority — meaning your loved one’s last will and testament or power of attorney.