Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 7:46 am
March 9, 2015

Facebook adds "legacy contact"

by Ellie Struewing, Online Features Editor
Facebook recently added the legacy contact feature, which enables users to designate someone to have access to their memorialized account, or their account once they have passed away. A legacy contact is able to write a pinned post that appears at the top of the deceased's profile, respond to friend requests and update cover and profile pictures.

Dealing with death in the online world is a tricky subject. For some time, Facebook would delete the pages of those who had died. This is not very helpful, since family members and friends often want to look back and honor the life of the deceased, and perusing their Facebook page full of pictures and memories is one way to do that. What's worse, if Facebook did not receive notice of a death, it would continue to send things like birthday notifications about the deceased. This ended up putting many people who were trying to grieve in an uncomfortable situation. In creating the legacy contact, Facebook is attempting to make the transition into the "digital afterlife" a little easier for everyone.

In order to respect the privacy of those who have passed away, being designated as someone's legacy contact has its limitations. The legacy contact can write a post -- a final message, details about a funeral service, etc. – to be displayed at the top of someone's Facebook page, but he or she cannot access messages, edit posts or delete photos. The point of having the legacy contact is not to allow someone to edit the online presence of the deceased, but to help honor the deceased.

The process of actually setting it up is simple. In order to designate a legacy contact, Facebook users must simply find the ‘Legacy Contact' option under the security page. After choosing the contact, users have the option of sending a message to that person notifying them that they have been chosen as a legacy contact. Users can then choose if the legacy contact will have Data Archiving permission, which would allow them to download a copy of what is on the account (pictures, videos, posts, etc.), or whether they want their account to be deleted after they die.

The legacy contact is a smart, simple and effective feature. Facebook and other social media platforms are becoming more and more a part of who we are, and with the help of improvements like the legacy contact, they can also be a place to honor and remember those who have passed away.

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