There’s a new option in Facebook’s security settings—users in the US can select a Facebook friend to be their legacy contact, the company announced today.
That person has very limited access to an account after its original owner dies: He or she can change your profile picture and cover photo, respond to friend requests, and pin a post at the top of your profile, as Facebook suggests, “to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service.”
There’s still a lot your designated Facebook heir can’t do, including remove unflattering photos and posts or read private messages. Facebook may increase the heir’s access down the line, according to its help page on the topic. For now Facebook doesn’t want to overwhelm mourning friends or relatives with added responsibilities, a company spokeswoman, Jodi Seth, told the Wall Street Journal.
The legacy contact will only have access after Facebook is notified of the death and memorializes a profile.
“Over the years, after hearing about the role Facebook played in helping people remember those who have passed on, it became clear we could do more to support those who are grieving and give people a choice in how their account is managed after their death,” a Facebook spokesman told Quartz via email.
There are a few decisions a user can make when choosing a legacy friend—you can give them permission to download everything you shared on Facebook, for example. And Facebook offers a form message to send to your designated heir:
Hi [name], Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948
Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.
This whole process is optional. You can also choose to do nothing, or ask Facebook to delete your account upon death.