Facebook has helped changed the way in which we grieve and remember those who have died, forever.
When a Facebook user dies the photos on their account and the interactions that they made converts from their ‘digital footprint’ to forging part of their ‘digital legacy’.
Facebook is often the first place where we learn of someones death. A Facebook account of a deceased friend or family member can soon become a resource of great comfort during the grieving process. Due to the amount of time we spend on Facebook it is becoming more and more important that we make plans for what we would like to happen to our own Facebook account once we have died. The information below provides all of the information and options currently available to help you decide which steps are most suitable for you.
Deciding what you would like to happen to your Facebook profile once you have passed away
Before you decide what you would like to happen to your Facebook account once you have died, why not create a backup and download a copy of your Facebook data? This will allow you to pass on your Facebook photos, videos, messages etc to your next of kin today. Click here to read the tutorial
There are different ways to address what happens to your Facebook account and who can access it once upon death. It is important that each of us decides what happens to our own content to help ensure that each person’s wishes are adhered to. We recommend that whatever you decide that you inform at least one person what your wishes are. Ideally you would document what you would like to happen to your Facebook account in your Social Media Will (click here to download the free template). You Social media Will could then be appended to your in your last Will & Testament and stored in a safe place.
By following the guidelines above you are more likely to have your digital end of life wishes met. Furthermore the stress and burden for those left behind following your death may be reduced.
Deciding what should happen to your Facebook account upon death (all of the options)
Below are a list of all of the options currently available when planning what should happen to a Facebook account upon death. If you have any questions or require support please feel free to contact us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
1). Setup Facebook ‘Legacy Contact’
Facebook users can now assign a ‘legacy contact. This ultimately provides a chosen Facebook user with access to your photos and videos once you have died.
What Facebook say:
A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it’s memorialized. Once your account is memorialized, your legacy contact will have the option to do things like:
- Write a pinned post for your profile (ex: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service)
- Respond to new friend requests (ex: old friends or family members who weren’t yet on Facebook)
- Update your profile picture and cover photo
- You also have the option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, and we may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in the future.
Your legacy contact can’t:
- Log into your account
- Remove or change past posts, photos and other things shared on your Timeline
- Read messages you’ve sent to other friends
- Remove any of your friends
- Learn more about memorialization and how to add a legacy contact to your account.
Note: You must be 18 or older to select a legacy contact.
What we say:
This is a good initiative by Facebook and it will help a lot people. We have provided a step-by-step tutorial below demonstrating how to set Facebook’s legacy contact. We would however like to see this feature expanded in the near future. We would especially like those under the age of 18 to also be allowed to assign a ‘Legacy Contact’. This could occur by a parent providing consent within the process itself.
How to setup your Facebook Legacy Contact
- Go to the Legacy Contact area on Facebook by clicking here
- Type in the name of the person who you would like to make your ‘Legacy Contact
3. You will now have the option to send your chosen legacy contact a message. The default message generated by Facebook is shown below.
4. You should now be able to assign access to your photos and videos to your chosen legacy contact. You can also state that if would like your account to be deleted upon death.
By Assigning a ‘Legacy Contact’ using Facebook you cannot:
- pass on your private Facebook messages (if you would like to download and pass on your private messages, photos and videos (today) follow the tutorial: How to download your Facebook Data and pass it on to your next of kin).
*Assigning a Legacy Contact is only available for those over the age of 18. If you are under the age of 18 or a parent of a Facebook user under the age of 18 we recommend reading the alternative options below. You may want to download the data from your Facebook account / request that your child downloads their data and passes it on to you. To do so follow the tutorial: How to download your Facebook Data and pass it on to your next of kin)
Leave your Facebook password to one or more friend or family members:
- If you leave your password to one or more person(s) it is vital that they are informed each time you update your password.
- Remember that all of the messages you have sent and received will be accessible by those who have been given your password to. This option may not be suitable for those who would like conversations with others to remain private. On the other hand, if someone is granted full access (via password) to a Facebook account it may significantly ease the process of inviting friends and family members to a funeral.
- There are a number of (paid for) services that allow you to save passwords in a virtual vault. These are then accessed after the owner of the account passes away by their chosen executors. These accounts can be of use, however the password’s owner needs to remember to update the passwords in the account each time they change. You can also save your passwords for free using Google Drive, Dropbox or by creating an encryped folder on your desktop.
2). Request that your Facebook account becomes ‘Memorialised’
Facebook allow for accounts of the deceased to be memorialised. There are benefits to this however it does restrict certain features and functionalities for those left behind.
Below are some of the key features of memorialised accounts
- Memorialised accounts cannot be modified in any way. This includes adding or removing friends, modifying photos or deleting any pre-existing content posted by the person.
- Depending on the privacy settings of the deceased person’s account, friends can share memories on the memorialised Timeline.
- Anyone can send private messages to the deceased person.
- Content the deceased person shared (ex: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with.
- Memorialised Timelines don’t appear in public spaces.
- Groups solely belonging to a memorialised account will be able to select new admins, while Pages will be removed from Facebook.
- If you request that your account is memorialised your profile will remain live however private messages etc are no longer accessible.
- If you have the password for the deceased’s account once memorialised you will no longer have access to the account or be able to view their private messages.
You cannot memorialise your own Facebook account. If you would like your Facebook account to become memorialised after your death you can state your wishes using Facebook’s legacy contact. We recommend that you also state what your wishes are within your social media will.
3). Request that your Facebook account is deleted (deactivated)
Every Facebook user is able to delete their own account (whilst alive) or request that it is deleted upon death.
Before deciding to delete a Facebook account or requesting that your account be deleted once you pass away it is worth considering the implications that his may have on those left behind. Remembering and mourning those who have died by visiting and interacting on Facebook is becoming increasingly intertwined with the grieving process. When an account is deleted photos, videos and conversations are removed. This can cause heartache for the left behind.
- To find out more information about deleting the account of someone who has died click here
- If you are thinking about deleting your account you may want to download your media first. To learn more about downloading your media click here
- To find out more information about deleting your own account click here
- You are also able to request that your account is deleted when assigning a Legacy Contact (as shown above)
4). Do nothing
The final option is not to make any plans and not to inform anyone about what you would like to happen to your Facebook account. When plans are not stated normally Facebook profiles of the deceased remain live and/or they are memorialised by a close friend or family member. By ‘doing nothing’ you may cause stress on those left behind as they try to decide what they should do with your Facebook account.
In some circumstances legal challenges have been mounted from a deceased user’s family to attain access to their Facebook photos, videos and private messages.
5). Informing Facebook when someone dies
If you would like to memorialise someones account on Facebook after they have died you will need to follow a number of simple steps.
Once completed Facebook will review the information provided and either:
- Follow it’s default procedure if Facebook’s Legacy Contact was not setup by the now deceased
- Follow the wishes left by the deceased if Facebook’s Legacy Contact was setup