A problem that has plagued the social media giant has finally been solved. Sort of.
For over a decade now, users have been growing their networks with status updates, pictures, and messages with their friends. What happens to all that data when you die? There hasn’t been a good answer, until now.
Facebook has now started giving users the option to assign someone as their “legacy contact” to help manage their page after they have passed. Prior to the legacy contact option, Facebook would simply freeze an account when it learned the user behind it had deceased. This would place the accounts in a form of stasis that proved frustrating to loved ones left to try and make some sense of the locked account.
Now, the deceased user’s legacy contact will be granted special permissions to utilize the page as a form of memorial after they are gone. A designated legacy contact can pin a post to the top of the memorialized page, change the deceased profile picture, and continue responding to friend requests on their behalf.
Facebook is not the first company to find itself in the position to need to respond to the needs of deceased members. In 2013, Google allowed users to assign digital heirs, of a kind, for a number of its products. The result has been a tedious line to walk when balancing commemorating the deceased and protecting the privacy of the departed.
In the case of Facebook, while the legacy can utilize a select set of functions on the behalf of the deceased, their private data is still protected. Legacy users will not be able to access messages of the deceased user.
For more information, read Facebook’s full press release on Legacy Contacts.