A few months ago I updated my will, and while I was figuring out which child would inherit my prized handbag collection, my smart lawyer asked me about my social media accounts: Who would I want to handle them after my death? What would I want to happen to them? I admit I was surprised that I hadn’t even thought of this myself, as someone who works in social media for a living and maintains multiple personal accounts, even after seeing friends on Facebook and Twitter pass away.
That’s why I’m thankful for the new Facebook Legacy Contact, and why I think it’s important you enable it immediately.
Launching for U.S. users first, Facebook Legacy Contact is an optional feature that allows you to designate a friend or family member to manage your account after you’ve passed away, and give them the ability to write a memorial post, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile photo and cover photo.
Your Legacy Contact may also be given permission to download a photo archive as well as posts and profile information, though they will never be able to login as you or see your private messages.
Here’s how to enable your Legacy Contact:
1. Go to your Security settings and choose “Legacy Contact.”
2. Select the person in your contacts you want to entrust with your info. And yes, it has to be someone also on Facebook.
Be sure that person can access your passwords if necessary, so choose someone you truly trust to handle your wishes and your personal information with care.
3. Enable the permissions you’d like, including the ability to download an archive of your timeline.
4. Facebook will send a message to your designated contact to alert them to your decision, though you might want to let them know before they get that message in their inbox.
If you don’t want to keep your account going for some reason, you can give Facebook permission to delete it entirely. But at least you’re able to make that choice for yourself.
I’m hoping that other social media outlets, like Twitter and Instagram, will follow suit soon. But until then, I strongly suggest you add an addendum to your will designating a person who will be able to access your accounts after you pass away, with instructions for how you’d like your account to be handled. Consider questions like, do you want them closed? Do you want them to be maintained? Do you want them to download all your Instagram photos to archive? Save all your tweets?
I highly recommend getting this done on Facebook right away, and even talking to your partner, spouse, or children who are on Facebook about setting theirs up too. As difficult a conversation it might be to have, it’s certainly an important one, given the amount of activity we all have on social media these days.
For more information on the new Legacy Contact feature, head over to the Facebook Blog.