This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.
It is something we don’t ever give much of a passing thought to, who would think about the state of their Facebook account if you die? It is only with the passing of a loved one that you realise what a true pain in the ass Facebook accounts can be when it comes to trying to close/change basic information about them, Trust me, I know first hand after trying to close off my younger brothers account following his tragic death. Facebook wants to give more control back to the user when it comes to accounts following the death of a loved one.
The options in the past have been limited, it was basically a choice of closing the account and removing it completely or putting the account in a memorialised state. So what are the problems with these two options?
Well, closing the account will mean that your loved one will have to send certain documentation to Facebook which proves that the person has actually died and also proves that you are a family member of the deceased. While this may not be a problem sometimes, there are circumstances which may lead to you not having the correct paper work for the best part of a year.
In our case, we didn’t have a death cert for a year so the only option left is to put the account in a memorialised state. The problem with this is that while you can only find the page by doing a search for the persons name, the account is still online and open for people to leave messages on which is not something that would appeal to everyone. It is easier to do, all Facebook wants is a copy of the death notice.
So why is it such a pain in the ass to close an account down following a death? And what changes are Facebook making?
Simply put, its a pain in the ass because a long time ago, back in the relatively early days of Facebook, some idiots thought it would be hilarious to get their friends accounts shut down by telling Facebook they were dead. As a result, Facebook started getting tired of shutting down accounts, getting complaints and reinstating those accounts and as a result you now require certain documentation to close an account down.
In order to make accounts easier to handle after the death of a loved one, Facebook is now unveiling a new feature called legacy contact. It appears in the settings menu and the idea is that you essentially nominate someone to take control of your account should you die. You will be able to control aspects like profile and header image.
Legacy contacts will be able to pin posts to the top of the Facebook page of the user, respond and control incoming friend requests and also download an archive of photos from the account if they have been given permission by the user upon setting up the legacy contact.
Facebook is also making a subtle but significant change to currently memorialised accounts. Beforehand, these accounts simply appear as normal, the only difference was they were taken off the public listing on Facebook. There will now be a “remembering” label before the name of the person which will let users know that they have passed away.
It is not something we like to think about of course, however it is nice to see Facebook taking steps to improving the features of accounts where someone has passed away. Following the death of a loved one, making something like sorting out a Facebook page a nice a simple process can be quite a significant thing.
About The Author
Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.