Facebook will outlive us all, or so the company suggests with a new policy that allows users to select a "legacy contact" to manage their accounts when they die.
"Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialized account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone," the company writes in a statement. "By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death."
Now Facebook is giving us the option to designate a digital heir, or account executor if you will, for when we shuffle off this mortal coil. The feature has just become available in "settings" under "security." Once you designate a legacy contact they'll have permission to use certain Facebook features in the inevitable event of your death. A legacy contact can write a post to display at the top of a memorialized timeline, respond to new friend requests, and update profile and cover pictures. They can't delete posts you've already written or photos you've added.
Facebook has also redesigned what it calls "memorialized profiles" by adding the word "remembering" above the name of a deceased Facebooker. Also, If you don't like the idea of your Facebook existing at all once you don't anymore, you can just opt to have it disappear along with you.
Death in the digital age is tricky business, both legally and emotionally. (Does everybody remember MyDeathSpace?) And after some high-profile missteps such as the company's "real name" policy, maybe Facebook is wising up to these realities of its users, writing "We hope this work will help people experience loss with a greater sense of possibility, comfort and support." So far, legacy contacts are just available in the US.
Previously: Humorous Video Suggests That Facebook Is The New AOLvia Facebook