What happens to your Facebook account after you die? With a growing population of 1.5 billion users, many people have long asked why are the inactive Facebook accounts of friends and family who have died still open for friend requests, timeline posts, comments and so on. I myself have a few friends who have already died whose inactive Facebook accounts continue to exist.
In February of this year, Facebook announced the ability of users to select another Facebook user who can manage the account of a dead Facebook user. They call this a “Legacy Contact.” The legacy contact can pretty much do most of the things one normally does with their Facebook account, like pin a post on the Timeline, respond to new friend requests and update the profile picture. What they can’t do is log in to the dead Facebook user’s account, remove or change past posts, photos and other things shared on the dead Facebook user’s Timeline, read messages the dead Facebook user sent to other friends, remove any of the dead Facebook user’s friends, post as the dead Facebook user and see the latter’s messages.
But before all the above can be done, the dead Facebook user has to be “memorialized.” So, what does it mean to be memorialized in Facebook. When I read this, my first thought was the Facebook app being that intelligent to recognize Timeline posts and tagged posts as memorializing a dead Facebook user. Nope. Memorialized in Facebook user means someone has to report a profile to be memorialized at the “Memorialization Request” web page. Besides the usual “your e-mail” and the Facebook URL of the dead Facebook user, “Proof of Death” is also necessary – a link to or copy of an obituary or other documentation about the death that helps Facebook review the memorialization request.
When a dead Facebook user’s account is finally approved by Facebook to be memorialized, the word “Remembering” will appear next to the person’s name on their profile page. Depending on the privacy settings of the account, friends can share memories on the memorialized Timeline. Content the person shared (ex: photos, posts) stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with. Here’s one good thing about memorialized accounts: Memorialized profiles don’t appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders. Finally. Also, no one can log into a memorialized account, groups with an admin whose account was memorialized will be able to select new admins, and Pages with a sole admin whose account was memorialized will be removed from Facebook if Facebook itself receives a valid request.
However, memorialized accounts that don’t have a legacy contact can’t be changed. So, think ten times today who you are going to assign as your legacy contact who is in sync with what you want to happen in Facebook when you die.
Besides memorialization, a dead Facebook user can simple just let Facebook delete the account permanently but only if another user submits proof of death to Facebook; more or less the same thing as memorializing a dead Facebook user.
To select a legacy contact to prepare yourself to be memorialized in Facebook, click to your “Settings”, go to “Security” hover down to “Legacy Contact,” right above the infamous setting called “Deactivate Your Account.” Here’s a One-Click to the legacy contact setting.