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Millions of people from all over the world have Facebook accounts, so it's no surprise that account-holders die all the time. Sometimes, the profiles of deceased individuals disappear after their deaths, while in other cases, their profiles remain up on the site. So just what exactly happens to your Facebook account when you go "over the rainbow?" As it turns out, there are a few things that can happen:
- Nothing: If no one lets Facebook know that an individual has died, their profile will remain active.
- Memorialization: A relative or friend can request that the account be "memorialized," which locks and freezes it forever but keeps it on the site. If a legacy contact exists, that individual will have limited access to the account and control of certain features.
- Removal: An individual can stipulate that they would like their account to be deleted in the event of their death. A relative or friend can also request that a user's account be removed from the site after they pass.
- Transfer of control: A user could give someone their password before their death so that this person could take full control of their account. However, this is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.
Most users choose the second or third option above. Both of these options require the requesting relative or friend to provide proof of death.
What Is a Facebook Legacy Contact?
A legacy contact is someone that a Facebook user has authorized to manage their memorialized Facebook page after their death. Any user can add a legacy contact to their account at any time before their death. If a user does not add a legacy contact before they die, their profile can still be memorialized, but no one will have access to the memorial page's limited functions.
Your legacy contact must have a Facebook account of their own, and they also must be 18 or older. After your death, your legacy contact will be able to do things like pin a post on your timeline to let your Facebook friends know that you have passed away. This is a good way to notify others (like friends and family members who are far away) about your death and funeral arrangements.
What Can a Legacy Contact Do?
According to Facebook, a legacy contact can . . .
- update your profile picture.
- update your cover photo.
- pin a tribute post to the top of your memorialized profile.
- decide who can see and post tributes on your profile (if this feature was selected).
- delete tribute posts.
- request the removal of your account.
- view all of your posts (but not your messages) regardless of your post privacy settings.
- download a copy of everything you've posted on Facebook (if this feature was selected).
What Can't a Legacy Contact Do?
According to Facebook, a legacy contact cannot . . .
- log in to your account.
- remove or change past posts, photos, and other things you've shared on your timeline.
- read your messages.
- remove any of your friends or make new friend requests.
- add a new legacy contact to your account.
How to Add a Legacy Contact on Facebook
Assigning a legacy contact is very quick and easy to do. If you are interested in setting up the legacy feature on your account, simply follow the steps listed below. (You may also want to share this information with your family and friends who don't know about this worthwhile feature.)
- Go to the top right of your Facebook page.
- Select "Settings & Privacy."
- Scroll down to "Settings" and click on it.
- Click "Manage Account" at the bottom of the list.
- Type in a friend or family member's name and click "Add."
- Let the person know they are your legacy contact by clicking "Send."
How to Change or Remove Your Legacy Contact
You can always change your legacy contact or remove the one you currently have selected. To do so, simply follow the first four instructions listed above, then click "Remove." You can then add a new contact if you choose.
Keep in mind that whoever you have listed as at the time of your death will be the one to manage your memorialized account. If you remove your last contact, there will be no agreement for anyone to manage your page after your demise.
How to Request That Your Account Be Deleted in the Event of Your Death
- Go to the top right-hand corner of Facebook while logged in and select "Settings."
- Click "Manage Account."
- Scroll down and select "Request Account Deletion."
- Click "Delete After Death."
Note: Someone will still need to notify Facebook to let them know you have passed away and provide proof of death.
What Do Memorialized Accounts Look Like?
A memorialized account is a place for friends and family to gather and share memories after a person has passed away. Memorialized accounts have the following key features:
- The word "Remembering" is shown next to the person's name on their profile.
- Friends can share memories on the memorialized timeline (if this feature has been selected).
- The content the deceased person has shared remains on Facebook and continues to be visible to the audience it was shared with.
- No one can log into a memorialized account.
- Memorialized accounts cannot be changed if a legacy contact is not listed.
The Choice Is Yours
Phew, that was a lot of information!
To sum it all up, if you die, a relative or friend can request that your Facebook profile become memorialized if that is what you wish. Your photos and posts will stay visible, but no one will be able to log in to your account.
Your page will become frozen in time (with the exception of new posts from others if this feature is selected) and your legacy contact (if you have one selected) will not be able to post or delete anything aside from a pinned tribute and new profile and cover photos.
If you prefer, you can instead request that your page be taken down if you die. This procedure gives you control over what you want to happen to your page instead of leaving it somewhat active when you are in your resting place.
If you have not selected "Delete After Death" or assigned a legacy contact, what happens to your page (whether it gets memorialized or deleted) will be up to whoever provides proof of your death to Facebook—usually a close relative or someone with power of attorney.
Whatever the case may be, Facebook will require a death certificate or some other proof that you have died in order to delete or memorialize your profile after your death. What you choose to do with your account is a matter of your personal preference.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
amjad khan on September 17, 2019: