Science and Tech


Facebook's 'Legacy Contact' Feature Enables Postmortem Posts

Facebook's new "legacy contact" feature lets someone manage your online profile after you die.
Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 12, 2015

If you can decide who will inherit your money, house and car when you die, don't you want to decide who will be in charge of your online profile? Facebook thinks so. 

Facebook has enacted a new feature called the "legacy contact," the person who will have access to your online profile when you die. In the same vein as choosing an emergency contact or writing your will, you pick the legacy contact to manage your Facebook profile. 

Now, the legacy contact can't log on as the deceased; this isn't just a sharing of username and password. The legacy contact will not have access to personal messages and will have to contact Facebook and let the network know someone has passed away before they can log on. 

Once logged on as the legacy contact, the user can post on the deceased's behalf, to distribute funeral arrangements or simply write a final message. The legacy contact can also change the profile picture and respond to friend requests. Those things come standard with the legacy contact. There's another option to allow the user to download all the photos, posts and profile information the deceased shared online. 

Facebook wrote in a statement about the new feature, "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."

Google was the first tech giant to publish a feature like this. Known as the "Inactive Account Manager," it allows the user to tell Google what to do with the deceased's Gmail messages and data from several other Google services.

Both Google and Facebook's digital afterlife features are optional. If you don't choose a legacy contact, Facebook will simply freeze your profile, like it did before, or you can choose for your page to simply be deleted upon news of your death.

To access your legacy contact information, just go to Settings, then Security, and at the bottom of the page, you'll find the Legacy Contact tab. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.