Wonder what happens to your Facebook page (technically your Facebook timeline) if you die? (Well, ok, when you die.) In part it will depend on whether or not you have designated a ‘legacy contact’ in your Facebook account. Want to make sure your account is deleted when you die? We tell you how to do that, too.
First, just how does Facebook know that you’ve died? That will require someone telling Facebook that you’ve died, and requiring proof. That will be easier if you have designated someone as your legacy contact. So, there’s that legacy contact thing again.
The person contacting Facebook needs to be either an immediate family member, or the executor of your estate, or someone else with appropriate legal authority (i.e. someone with a power of attorney). Then they will need to provide Facebook with a scanned image of your death certificate, or another definitive proof that you have died.
A legacy contact is a family member or friend who you have designated as the person who should manage your Facebook account once you pass away.
As Facebook explains it, your legacy contact can pin a post to your profile, accept new friend requests, update your profile and cover photo, and, if you choose, download a copy of your Facebook data.
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Ominously, Facebook also says “we may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in the future,” which means that by the time you die, the person you designate as your legacy contact may be able to do things with your account that you hadn’t anticipated.
So while presently, says Facebook, your legacy contact can’t actually log into your account, edit or delete anything you had already posted, delete friends, or read messages you had sent to others, who knows what they may be able to do in the future.
Also, in order for your legacy contact to do any of these things, your account needs to be ‘memorialized’ after you’ve died.
By default (at least as of the writing of this article), once Facebook is alerted to the fact that you are deceased, they will ‘memorialize’ your account, unless you have earmarked it to be deleted when you die (see below).
What having your account memorialized means is that the word “Remembering” will be added next to your name on your profile, and if your privacy settings already allow friends to post on your timeline, then friends can share their thoughts and memories of you.
What Happens When Your Facebook Account is Memorialized
All of this gets started by someone initiating the request to Facebook here.
So, back to the legacy contact. Here’s how to set up a legacy contact on Facebook.
Go to your Facebook Settings
Click on ‘Security’
Under your Security Settings, find ‘Legacy Contact’ and click on ‘Edit’
This will bring up the section where you can either designate a legacy contact, or tell Facebook that you want your account to be deleted when you die.
Now, once you pick the person who you want to be your legacy contact, Facebook ‘helpfully’ prepares this message to send them – mind you this is by regular Facebook messenger, so if you don’t want to startle or creep out your intended legacy contact, you may want to ask them first if they will be your legacy contact. (Do note, also, that you can change the text that Facebook puts in the message, or opt to not send it at all.)
Facebook’s Canned Message to Your Legacy Contact:
Hi, Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them.
Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.”
Also, on a sidenote, if you are the sole admin for a Facebook page when you pass away, that Page can be removed if Facebook receives a “valid request” for removal of the page that you admin.
So, what about you? Are you going to let your Facebook profile be memorialized when you pass away? Designate a legacy contact? Or are you going to have your Facebook account deleted when you die? Or, could you not care less?
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