Facebook is putting its users in control of what happens to their accounts after they die. Starting today, users in the US will be able to chose to have their accounts deleted after death or grant another person on Facebook permission to manage an account on their behalf. Facebook calls this person an account’s “legacy contact,” and users will be able to choose that person through the website’s or app’s security page.
If you chose to set up a legacy contact, that person will be able to change your profile photo, accept friend requests, and pin announcements on your account’s timeline after Facebook receives notice of your death. A legacy contact won’t be able to post as the account that they’re controlling, nor will they be able to view that person’s private messages. Facebook will also provide an option to let legacy contacts download a file containing an account’s photos, posts, and other information.
Before today, Facebook provided a process to freeze accounts after death, but there was no way to set them up to be managed by someone else or automatically deleted. Facebook said last year that it was working on better ways to handle accounts after death — at the time, it started respecting users’ existing privacy settings and allowing “Look Back” compilation videos to be generated. Now, about a year later, it’s actually giving its users control. Setting up legacy choices is optional, and Facebook says that they’ll eventually roll out to other countries.