With the ever increasing popularity of social media, gaining access to a person’s social media account on their death is often required to be able to either shut the account down or manage it appropriately. While an executor assumes control over a deceased persons social media accounts on their death, such control is generally not achievable without knowing the persons login and password.
What if inappropriate posts have been made to your page after your death? What if you are tagged in inappropriate photographs? Who will remove you from these posts to protect your reputation once you have passed? Or, more commonly, what if it is causing distress to your loved ones who are seeing your facebook account still active, your birthday reminder popping up on their screen, or an anniversary or a milestone?
Well, Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook have made death a little easier. Facebook has a policy that allows you to designate a ‘legacy contact’. Your legacy contact would ordinarily be the person appointed as executor in your Will, or, if you do not have a Will (tsk! tsk! Everyone needs a Will!) or if your executor is not on facebook, your legacy contact should be a person who is your friend on facebook that you trust to assume control over your facebook account.
So just what can your legacy contact do? They can memorialise your account and then have the ability to do any of the following:
- Write a pinned post for your profile (for example, share a final message on your behalf or provide information about your funeral service to share with all of your friends);
- View all of your posts, even if set to private;
- Archive your facebook posts and photos;
- Manage tribute posts (a feature of a memorialised account);
- Change who can see posts that you are tagged in;
- Respond to new friend requests;
- Update your profile picture and cover photo; and
- Request the removal of your account.
Your legacy contact cannot:
- Login to your account;
- Read your private messages; or
- Remove any of your friends.
How do you set up your legacy contact?
To designate your legacy contact, while you are logged in to your facebook account on your computer (it seems there are different pathways on the Android/Apple facebook app) go to Settings > Memorialisation Settings and from there you will be able to select one of your facebook friends to be appointed as your legacy contact. You will also be given the option to send them a pre-written message, which you can edit, to let them know that they have been appointed. Otherwise, facebook will notify them directly once your death has been reported to facebook.
Below the appointment of your legacy contact, facebook also gives you the option to select that you would like your facebook account to be deleted in the event that you passed away, if this would be your preference.
Death is never a nice thing to talk about, but the loved ones that you leave behind will thank you for doing all that you can while you are alive to make that difficult time as easy as possible for them.