Facebook has started rolling out its ‘legacy contacts’ feature in the UK, letting British users nominate an ‘heir’ to manage their profiles after they’ve died.
The new feature, which has been available in the US since February, helps turn the profiles of the deceased into memorial pages.
That’s probably a good thing – with 1.44 billion monthly active users, it’s guaranteed that Facebook will eventually double as an online graveyard whether its creators like it or not.
Users can also give their “online executor” the ability to download an archive of everything the deceased individual has ever shared on Facebook.
But that’s it. Privacy and audience settings will stay the same, and heirs won’t be able to log in as a person or see their private messages.
“Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family,” says Vanessa Callison-Burch, product manager at Facebook. “For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honour those we’ve lost.”
She adds: “When a person passes away, their account can become a memorial of their life, friendships, and experiences.”
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To nominate an heir, go to settings, then choose ‘security’, then ‘legacy contact’, and choose a friend.
The friend will have to submit proof of death to actually take over an account – that’s to weed out spurious claims.
If being immortalised on Facebook gives you the jitters, it’s worth noting that you can also task the website with permanently destroying your account post-death.