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Managing Your Facebook Page in the Afterlife

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Managing Your Facebook Page in the Afterlife

One big question that continually arises with social media is what happens to your account after you die?  In the simplest form, the answer to this question “varies” by jurisdiction and social media platform.  For example, a few states have laws that address how an individual’s digital media assets are handled when the user dies. Members of the National Conference of Commissioners have drafted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act in an effort to provide states more guidance in this area.

As for the various social media platforms, they take different approaches to this question.  For example, this week Facebook announced that users have three basic options to choose from with respect to maintaining their account after they die.

  • Do nothing, in which case the current rules apply and the account can be memorialized by anyone after your death, providing that the company gets adequate proof of your death.

  • Ask Facebook to delete your account after you die.

  • Designate someone —  called your legacy contact — to manage your account. Once Facebook is notified of your death, your timeline will also change to let people know you’ve died. Facebook does this by adding the word “Remembering” ahead of your name — i.e. “Remembering John Doe.”

This legacy contact will be able to

  • Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)

  • Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook

  • Update the profile picture and cover photo

  • Download an archive of the photos, posts, and profile information

However, the legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.

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