Social media has reached the paradox of all paradoxes: immortality, or better said, social immortality, as Facebook announced Thursday that it would encourage its users to designate a person of his/her choice that will be in charge of the profile once the rightful owner passes away.
In other words, beginning Thursday, Facebook users in the U.S. are able to choose a “legacy contact,” who will be in charge with making one last post on your behalf after you’ve passed away. That designated contact can also respond to new friend requests, update photos, and also archive your Facebook posts and photographs.
As Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch explained, until recently, whenever family or friends notified Facebook that a user had passed away, Facebook used to verify the death and “memorialise” the account as a consequence. In other words the account could be viewed but it could no longer be edited or managed.
“We heard from family members who wanted to post funeral information or download and preserve photos. We realized there was more we could do,”
said Vanessa Callison-Burch.
According to the legacy contract policy, once the death of an individual is confirmed, Facebook will add the tagline “Remembering” over the user’s name and also notify the legacy contact. But keep in mind that this designated person will not be able to log in as the person who died, neither view that person’s private messages.
According to a recent poll of 1,012 adults, 71% want their online communications to remain private under all circumstances, unless they give prior consent. 43% want their private accounts deleted under all circumstances unless they give prior consent for someone to access them on their behalf.
The Facebook legacy-contact feature is introduced in the United States February 12th, and eventually it will be extended to other countries soon. The social platform has 186 million users in the United States alone.
But others have thought about this before, like Google for instance. In 2013, the company introduced the Inactive Account Manager option, through witch users can determine what happens to their Gmail and Google+ account or with their Google Drive documents once they pass away.