What happens to your Facebook account when you pass away?
As you scroll through Facebook today, stop for a moment and think about this. What would happen if you were suddenly laid up in the hospital for an extended period of time — or worse, had died? What would happen to your Facebook account?
Who would inform your friends? your clients or customers? your readers? Who would close your account? Do they know your username and password?
These are just some of the questions that need to be asked when preparing a digital legacy plan. After all, your Facebook account has value. Your personal profile certainly has emotional value, while your business page will have financial or commercial value. Have you planned to transfer that value to your loved ones and/or your business partners or successors? That’s why a digital legacy plan is important. Fortunately, Facebook has made it relatively easy to make that plan.
You can actually choose what happens to your Facebook account now. Check it out.
Essentially, you have TWO choices: (1) appoint a ‘legacy contact’, a person who you designate to manage your account after you’re gone or if you’re laid up for an extended period of time OR (2) arrange to delete your account permanently from Facebook.
If you don’t choose to delete your account, Facebook will ‘memorialize’ your account after a certain period of inactivity. Generally, that period is three months. After that, Facebook will seek to ‘memorialize’ your account. ‘Memorialization’ transforms your Facebook profile into a place of remembrance for family and friends. The word ‘remembering’ will appear next to your name.
Depending on your settings, friends and loved ones can share memories on your timeline. Your content remains (posts, photos). A memorialized profile will not appear in reminders for birthdays or in public posts such as People You May Know. No one can log into a memorialized account. However, you can appoint a ‘legacy contact’.
A ‘legacy contact’ is a person you appoint to manage your account if it has been memorialized. Legacy contacts must be 19 years of age or older. Facebook strongly recommends appointing a legacy contact, although you can also arrange to have your account deleted.
A legacy contact can accept friend requests, post or pin a tribute post, and decide who can see and post tributes. To appoint a legacy contact and arrange to memorialize your account, follow these instructions:
- Click the triangle in the top right of your Facebook page.
- Select Settings & privacy, then click Settings.
- Click Memorialization Settings and click Edit.
- Choose your Legacy Contact and click Add.
- To let them know you’ve chosen them, click Send.
You can remove or change a legacy contact by repeating Steps 1 & 2 and click Remove. Add a new legacy contact if you wish. To find out more about what a legacy contact can and can’t do, click here.
Deleting Your Account
Follow Steps 1, 2, & 3 above. Scroll down below the Legacy Contact section and you will see the option to arrange for the deletion of your account after your death.
As you can see, making a plan for your Facebook account in the event of your death or extended period of inactivity is relatively easy. Whether you memorialize or delete your account is up to you. However, if you choose to memorialize your account, it’s a good idea to discuss your choice with your legacy contact. Let them know your wishes. How do you want your friends and followers notified of your passing and at what point? You certainly don’t want family members unduly distressed at discovering your death in someone’s post. Leave specific instructions as to what you want to be done.
If you choose to have your account deleted, you may also want to discuss your decision with your family and relevant loved ones for it’s possible to download your data ahead of time.
In future articles, I will discuss how to make arrangements for other social media accounts as well as how to deal with your many other digital assets. To learn more about my work and to contact me with your questions, go to legacycoaching.ca or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.