If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he infamous quote about death and taxes would read a bit differently. These days he’d almost certainly have to say “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes … and Facebook.”
With more than 1 billion active users, Facebook boasts more citizens than the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Brazil combined. With such a large user base, Facebook has transcended the Internet and is truly a part of our pop culture. As social media becomes more intimately ingrained in our daily lives, it brings up a number of interesting challenges and questions.
Do Facebook Accounts Go to Heaven?
Over the years, Facebook has done everything it can to be something people integrate into every aspect of their lives. Users check-in when they’re out and about, upload photos to tag locations and friends and can now even live stream to the people in their news feed. So it’s no surprise that Facebook has also developed ways for your online fingerprint to linger even after you shuffle off this mortal coil.
Users who know someone who has died can request to have their account memorialized. Users can submit a death certificate for verification to the Facebook team. Once that’s done, the person’s account will be memorialized. Once an account is memorialized
More and more people are taking control of their funeral arrangements and funeral homes are used to handling the preneeds of clients who want to plan ahead. Facebook has followed this model and now offers their own form of preneed services – the Legacy Contact program.
Facebook users who want to make provisions for their social media life after death can designate a chosen Legacy Contact. This person is chosen by the account holder to take over their account after they pass away. But that doesn’t mean Legacy Contacts simply gain control of the deceased’s account. Even in death, Facebook lets you control privacy Settings.
Once the Legacy Contact provides proof of a person’s death, they are given control over certain aspects of the person’s account. A Legacy Contact can add new posts and posts to the timeline, respond to friend requests and update the person’s profile and cover photo. They cannot, however, remove past posts, delete friends or access Facebook messages.
To appoint a Legacy contact on your Facebook account, go to the Settings tab on your account. Select Settings > Security > Legacy Contact. There you’ll be able to enter your contact’s name and select how much access you want to grant them once they take over your account. You can also give them the option to download and archive everything you’ve posted – a digital scrapbook of your time on Earth. Once that’s done, you can then send them a message notifying them (fittingly) via Facebook messenger.
Immediate family members have one final option when it comes to a loved one’s Facebook account – deletion. For those who don’t want their loved one forever on Facebook, the Special Request for Deceased Person’s Account form can be used to take down their loved one’s page once and for all. In order to submit the request, you need to provide proof of both the person’s death as well as your relationship to them.
They say that once something’s online, it’s there forever. Facebook’s options for the social media afterlife may seem like a strange iea to some but, for others, it’s a chance to live on forever … online, anyway.