In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, the interwebs have been rife with sugary odes to romance. And while BeyondMVP has been guilty of this with our edgier take on ole Cupid, Facebook has chosen to unveil a distinctively un-romantic new feature two days before the annual day of love. This morning, Facebook announced its legacy contact feature for handling accounts of people who have passed away. With deceased Facebook users slated to outnumber living ones as early as the 2060s according to one source, this feature comes as no surprise.
The “legacy contact” feature allows a deceased user’s account to live on under the partial control of the designated “heir.” The person tasked with managing the memorialized account can write posts, update the profile picture and cover photo, and respond to friend requests. What they cannot do is edit the deceased’s posts and photos – or delete the account altogether.
Don’t want your Facebook page to outlive you? There’s a setting for that, too. The new feature follows in the footsteps of digital service providers like Google, which in 2013 became the first company to allow users to hand over their data to an “inactive account manager.” In an attempt to balance privacy concerns with family members’ desire for access to photos and other digital mementos, companies like Google and Facebook are moving away from freezing accounts. Instead, the new approach functions more like a digital will, giving users the option of selecting an executor for their digital assets.
So far the response to Facebook’s “legacy contact” feature has been mostly humorous, peppered with light jabs at the fact that the deceased care very little about what happens to their profiles. For grieving friends and family, however, Facebook hopes to provide a place for remembering their loved ones.
Photo Credit: Ksayer1 via Flickr