What Happens to Your Facebook Account When You Die?
Who will handle your Facebook account after you die? Will your Facebook friends be notified? Will it be passed on to your next of kin?
As it turns out, Facebook has already thought of this and created 3 options for people who have passed away. A dedicated FAQ is on display stating the three choices- the first option is to memorialize the Facebook account; the second option is to assign a legacy contact; finally, the third option is to request your Facebook account to be removed or deleted.
A detailed explanation of the 3 choices can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/help/1506822589577997/
Memorializing Your Facebook Account
Memorialized Facebook accounts are virtual spaces where the friends, family and contacts may gather and share pictures, memories and stories when an individual has passed away.
The word “Remembering” will be added right beside your name on the profile. Friends will be able to share their memories and post it on your timeline, depending on your privacy settings. Any attached photos or videos will be visible to the audience and will stay on your Facebook profile.
Changes will be made on some aspects, which means that your Memorialized account will not show up on Birthday Reminders, in Peope You May Know suggestions, in Facebook Ads and in other public spaces.
No one will be able to log in and get inside a Facebook account once it has been memorialized. Your Facebook account may still be given a memorialization even if you haven’t assigned a legacy contact to take care of your account when you pass away. Assigning a legacy contact isn’t really a necessity but it’s always a plus if you wish to have your photos and videos retrieved from your Facebook account.
Your family members or friends may request for your Facebook account to be memorialized by getting to the “Contact Us” page when they log in their Facebook account. A confirmation email will be sent to the requester once everything is completed.
Assigning a Legacy Contact
A Legacy Contact is much like writing a will and assigning your assets to a person after you die. The legacy contact becomes the executor of your will in terms of taking care of all the content in your Facebook account. That person will have complete control over what happens to your profile, your photo albums, your videos and all the actions you’ve made on Facebook.
Moreover, your assigned legacy contact may download a copy of everything you shared on FB, request for your account to be deleted, update your cover photo and profile picture, accept new friend requests, i.e., for family members and friends who have just recently joined Facebook.
Keep in mind that you must enable the setting for people to post on your timeline for your legacy contact to be able to put a pinned post on your profile. This is handy for when that contact posts a final message or pertinent information such as the date and location of the memorial service.
A legacy contact will not be able to do the following:
– Log in your Facebook account.
– Delete or change previous posts, photos and shared content in your timeline.
– Remove a friend.
– Read your Facebook messages.
Here’s how you can add a legacy contact.
Step 1. Log in your Facebook account and click on Settings at the top right area of your Facebook profile.
Step 2. A drop down menu will appear. Click on “Manage Account” to continue.
Step 3. Locate the legacy contact and add your family member or friend’s name on it. Your legacy contact must at least be aged 18. Make sure that the name is linked to your friend or family member’s Facebook account.
Step 4. Click on Send to continue. A confirmation will be sent to your legacy contact.
Changing or removing the legacy contact can be done in the same manner.
Account Deletion or Removal
Perhaps you don’t want to assign a legacy contact as your virtual executor of will. You may not want your Facebook account to be memorialized. The third options discusses how your Facebook account may be removed from the system permanently.
This option may be done only if a verified immediate family member makes the request for it on the “Contact Us” page.
All traces of your account will be deleted from Facebook. All posts, updates, shares, comments, photos, videos and activity will be removed, along with your timeline. As such, no one will be able to view it, and your profile will no longer be searchable by Facebook users.
In order to protect its users from malicious intent, Facebook has put up strict guidelines on how this can be done. Family members and executors must be verified before the process of deletion can begin. If the family member or the executor is unable to verify or submit requirements, the account deletion will not happen.
Facebook has a special request form for any concerns regarding account deletion and memorialization. The verification process will require pertinent documentation such as your birth or death certificate, a POA under local law that allows a person to act under your behalf, etc. Facebook has a dedicated page made for special removal requests here- https://www.facebook.com/help/265593773453448/.
Here’s how you can set up your Facebook account in advance to prepare for permanent account removal:
Step 1. Log in your Facebook account and locate the Settings page right at the top right area of your Facebook profile.
Step 2. A drop down menu will come up. Click on General to proceed.
Step 3. Locate “Manage Account” and click on it to proceed.
Step 4. Locate “Request Account Deletion”. Make sure to read through the instructions before you click on “I Agree”.
You can always change this setting if you change your mind. Keep in mind that Facebook account deletion is different from Facebook account deactivation because once an account is deleted, it cannot ever be retrieved again. Private information will not be accessible once the deletion is in effect. The whole process may take up to 90 days.