On Thursday, Feb. 12, Facebook.com announced a new feature that will allow users limited access to a deceased user’s account.
Called the “legacy contact,” the designated user will be allowed to write pinned timeline posts and accept pending friend requests on the deceased’s behalf. The account’s profile picture and cover photo can also be changed.
However, according to Facebook, the legacy contact will not have full access to the account. The private messages, account settings and previous posts of the profile cannot be accessed or altered.
Users also have the option to allow their contacts an archive of previously shared photos and posts, as well as the friends list and contact info of the former account holder.
Previously, if the website learned of a user’s passing, they would freeze the account from any outside access in a process called “memorialization.”
Now once an account is memorialized, the word “Remembering” will appear above the profile picture.
“By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death,” said a press release from the Facebook News Room the day the feature debuted.
So far, the website has denied requests by the friends and family of deceased users to alter or delete controversial and unflattering posts and photos that had been previously shared. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook spokesperson Jodi Seth said the extra curation responsibilities may add an extra level of grief.