Thursday, February 12, 2015

Facebook Now Allows You to Choose Who Can Manage Your Account When You Die

Starting today, Facebook has rolled out a feature that allows users to designate who can have access to their account when they die. Sure, you can choose to have your account deleted entirely once you bite the dust, or you can allow someone -- a “legacy contact” -- to manage parts of your accounts posthumously.
What’s the point of maintaining a social network after death? Facebook legacy contacts will be able to manage accounts in a way that can turn the deceased person’s Facebook page into a kind of digital gravestone. Legacy contacts can write a post to display at the top of their friend’s memorialized profile page, change the friend’s profile picture, and even respond to new friend requests on behalf of the deceased. If they’re granted prior permission, legacy contacts can also download an archive of posts and photos from the deceased, but not the contents of his or her private messages. All of this is optional. If you do nothing, when Facebook finds out you’ve passed, it will simply freeze your account and leave posts and pictures at the privacy settings you determined, a process it calls memorialization. Facebook says it has done this to hundreds of thousands of accounts to date. (As before, Facebook won’t show advertisements on memorialized accounts.) Being a legacy contact is different from simply logging into the account of the deceased, and there are important things legacy contacts can’t alter. They can’t edit what the deceased has already posted, or what his or her friends post on the page. If you chose to post a photo while you are living that looks embarrassing when you are gone, your legacy contact can’t do anything about it. A legacy contact also can’t decide to delete a whole account. These restrictions might upset some people who think their job as a caretaker is to maintain a Facebook page as the nicest possible memorial. “We gave this a lot of thought, and ultimately decided against it for this first version,” said spokeswoman Jodi Seth. Facebook feared that curation responsibilities might add an extra emotional load to grieving, among other concerns. To select your legacy contact, go to Settings and choose Security and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page—it’s the same for the Facebook website or mobile app. There you can designate an existing Facebook friend (in other words, only someone who’s already part of the social network), grant that person permission to download an archive of your data, or choose to have your account deleted after death. There’s more fine print worth paying attention to: You can only select one person—and no backup—so spouses and partners who often travel together may face a difficult choice about whether to designate each other. Ms. Seth says Facebook is continuing to think about how it might allow for contingent legacy contacts. Facebook members can change their legacy contact selection at any time, but once they’ve died, a legacy contact can’t pass along the responsibility to someone else. If you don’t choose a legacy contact on Facebook but name a digital heir in a legal will, Facebook will designate that person.

source: Wall Street Journal
The question we have is: How does Facebook know you're dead?
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