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Facebook Lets Users Choose Digital Heir after Death

Facebook has introduced a new feature that allows users to choose a ‘digital heir’ to manage parts of their accounts after they die.

Called “legacy contact,” the feature notifies a designated Facebook friend in the event a registered user dies.

“Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family,” the social media giant said in a newsroom post. “For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honor those we’ve lost. When a person passes away, their account can become a memorial of their life, friendships and experiences.

Once someone notifies Facebook via a special request, the decedent’s account will be memorialized and the chosen legacy contact will have access to it. That person will be able to write a post to display atop the memorialized timeline, respond to future friend requests from new Facebook users and update profile and cover photos.

Legacy contacts will not be permitted to log in as people who have passed away, nor can they view their private messages.

Users also have the option of having their accounts permanently deleted.

The new feature, which has currently been launched only in the United States, replaces the current basic memorialized account feature, which does not allow legacy management.

“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,” the Facebook newsroom post stated. “We hope this work will help people experience loss with a greater sense of possibility, comfort and support.”

San Jose, California resident Frances Herbert, whose brother died three years ago, welcomed news of the new feature. His Facebook account has “been stuck in limbo, just up there,” Herbert told the San Jose Mercury News, adding that “it would be beneficial to designate one person to manage [an account].”

To select your “legacy contact,” go to Facebook settings, then click ‘Security’ and then ‘Legacy Contact,’ located just above the account deactivation option. You may then choose your legacy contact and, if you wish, send that person a message informing them of your decision.

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