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♠ Posted by Marc Soss at Thursday, February 12, 2015

The world’s most popular social network will now begin allowing its members to designate someone, a “legacy contact,” to manage parts of a decedents accounts posthumously. Members can also choose to have their presence deleted entirely. Previously, Facebook automatically froze the accounts of members it learned had died, angering some heirs who wanted to edit the deceased’s online presence. Following a trend, in 2013, Google began allowing its users to select digital heirs for its Gmail, cloud storage and other services, dubbed “inactive account managers.”

Facebook legacy contacts will be able to manage accounts in a way that can turn the deceased person’s Facebook page into a kind of digital gravestone. Legacy contacts can write a post to display at the top of their friend’s memorialized profile page, change the friend’s profile picture, and even respond to new friend requests on behalf of the deceased. If granted prior permission, legacy contacts can also download an archive of posts and photos from the deceased, but not the contents of his or her private messages.

To select your legacy contact, go to Settings and choose Security and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page—it’s the same for the Facebook website or mobile app. There you can designate an existing Facebook friend (in other words, only someone who’s already part of the social network), grant that person permission to download an archive of your data, or choose to have your account deleted after death.

There’s more fine print worth paying attention to: You can only select one person—and no backup—so spouses and partners who often travel together may face a difficult choice about whether to designate each other. Facebook members can change their legacy contact selection at any time, but once they’ve died, a legacy contact can’t pass along the responsibility to someone else. If you don’t choose a legacy contact on Facebook but name a digital heir in a legal will, Facebook will designate that person.
Article posted from the Wall Street Journal