Mortality is something that humans have had to face for our entire existence. However, never before have we had to consider the type of digital footprints we’re leaving behind. Everything you’ve said or done online won’t magically die once you leave the earth. While you don’t have much of a choice about most of your online persona, Facebook has provided a satisfying answer to an increasingly common question: what happens to my Facebook profile when I die?
The Choice is Yours: Memorialization or Deletion
You have two options to select from: delete your account or memorialize it forever.
A memorialized account creates a place where all your friends and family can share memories, talk and review content you’ve previously posted. If a memorialized account doesn’t have a legacy contact (more on that shortly), it cannot be changed. Additionally, nobody is able to log into the account – it becomes locked entirely.
Conversely, deleting your account does exactly that. Once you pass away, your legacy contact notifies Facebook and your account disappears. You can set it to have your account deleted should you pass away right now:
- From within Facebook, click the down arrow and select Settings.
- Select Security from the menu on the left.
- Click Legacy Contact.
- Select ‘Have your account permanently deleted’ and complete the on screen instructions.
What Are Legacy Contacts?
A legacy contact is someone you’ve chosen to look after your account once it’s been memorialized. They will have limited use of your account, such as being able to pin things your profile (such as a final message), respond to friend requests and even update your profile picture and cover photo.
Legacy contacts won’t be able to log into your account, remove posts, read messages you’ve sent or remove any of your friends. Lastly, only users who are over 18 years of age can have a legacy contact.
How Does Facebook Know I Died?
Before either option (deletion or memorialization) comes into play, someone has to tell Facebook that you’ve passed on. Facebook has a form specifically for requesting that a profile become memorialized. One of your family members or friends can submit this form to inform Facebook of your passing. They’ll process the request, make sure it’s valid and then take the desired action based on what you’ve decided prior to your passing.
Now, in addition to considering a will and burial options, you also need to consider what you’d like to happen with your Facebook profile. So, what will it be? Memorialization or removal?