A couple of years ago at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, I met a guy in a superhero costume promoting his start-up, which he cheekily called Dead Social. His company’s mission statement: “Prepare for a Digital Death and Build Your Digital Legacy.”
Start-up founder James Norris was onto something then, and Facebook this week joined digital giants Google and Apple in acknowledging that questions of what to do with your digital persona after death now loom large for all of us. To simplify your planning, Facebook now allows you to give one friend a special curatorial power over your account once you’re gone.
See also: Protecting Your Online Data When You're Gone
So, starting right now, here’s what you can do with your account to prepare for its (and your) afterlife:
- Log in, visit your Settings, then click Security, then Legacy Contact.
- Choose a Facebook friend to be your legacy contact— and Facebook will offer to send him or her a message.
- Decide whether to allow that person to download a copy of your archived content — like posts, photos and videos — minus personal messages.
- Of course, you can simply ask Facebook to delete your account if you die.
Legacy accounts will look different from the account you have now:
- The word “Remembering” will be there in front of your name.
- The page can provide a venue for friends to share memories of you.
- The content you’ve shared will still be there for friends to see. (But nobody will be reminded of your birthday.)
- Nobody can log into a memorialized account, not even the legacy contact.
The legacy contact will be able to:
- Respond to friend requests.
- Move a post to the top as a “pinned” post.
- Update your profile picture and cover photo.
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