Last year, Facebook announced a new feature that would allow a user to choose a “legacy contact,” ideally a close friend or family member, to manage their account after their death. Before that time, Facebook only provided a basic memorialized account, which could be viewed by others but not directly managed.
In talking with families that have experienced loss, Facebook realized that providing the option to manage a deceased loved one’s account would be incredibly valuable not only to support those grieving but also to give them a say in what happens to the person’s account following their death.
The newly re-designed memorialized profiles pay tribute to the deceased by adding “Remembering” above their name and allowing the legacy contact to pin a post to the top of their Timeline.
How it works:
Once Facebook is notified that someone has passed, they will memorialize the account and the elected legacy contact will be granted access to:
- Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline, i.e. announcing a memorial service or sharing a special message
- Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
If the Facebook user chooses, they may also give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of their photos, posts, and profile information shared on Facebook. The contact will not, however, be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.
How to choose a legacy contact:
Follow these instructions to choose a legacy contact:
1. Open settings. Choose Security and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page.
3. After choosing your legacy contact, you’ll have the option to send them a message to let them know you have elected them to manage your account after your death
What Funeral Directors Need to Know
Facebook’s new “legacy contact” feature will provide an opportunity for families and friends experiencing loss to further memorialize their loved one long after their death. While your funeral home’s website can and should remain the place to share memories, write condolences, and offer grief support immediately following a person’s death, Facebook can be used as an additional bereavement resource in subsequent months and years for families to continue sharing stories, memories, and to commemorate death anniversaries.
As Facebook continues growing in popularity for all age groups, we suggest that your funeral home introduces “adding a legacy contact” to your advance planning checklist. When helping a family or individual pre-plan their funeral, find out if they have a Facebook profile. If they do, suggest they select a legacy contact so their Facebook page will remain a way to memorialize their life long after death.
Facebook will roll out this feature first in the U.S. and will continue expanding to more countries in the future.