Life Tech Facebook to preserve accounts of the deceased
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Facebook to preserve accounts of the deceased

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Facebook has launched a new feature that allows Australian users of the social network to choose a “legacy contact” – someone who can manage their account when they die.

The initiative coincides with a grieving Brisbane family’s campaign to reinstate the Facebook profile of a loved one killed in a motorcycle accident.

Father-of-six Daniel Cook, 34, had his Facebook account deleted a few weeks after his sudden death on March 14 and devastated family members have launched an online petition to get his “digital diary” of photos and postings restored.

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However, Facebook claims they deleted Daniel’s account at the request of a “close family member” and it now cannot be reinstated.

A spokesperson told The New Daily the “legacy contact” initiative was not in response to the Daniel Cook situation because Facebook had planned several weeks ago to roll it out to Australian users.

“We know it’s really hard for everyone involved but what has happened with Daniel Cook’s account does show the importance of this new feature,” the spokesperson said.

Daniel Cook

Until now, Facebook had offered a basic memorialised account of someone who died which could be viewed but not managed by anyone.

“By consulting with the community, we realised there was more we needed to do to support those who have lost a loved one and want a say in what happens to their account.”

From Wednesday, Aussie Facebook users can set up a “legacy contact” in their account’s security settings.

Once that is completed, Facebook will memorialise the account of a person who has died and the “legacy contact” will be given a caretaker role but with defined access.

The “legacy contact” will be able to:

• Write a post to display at the top of the memorialised 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

“If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook,” the spokesperson said.

“Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialised. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.

“Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.”

The “legacy contact” feature is also being made available to New Zealand and Japan users after being rolled out in the US earlier this year.

While Fiona Wrigley, the former wife of Daniel Cook, welcomed the initiative, she said her family would continue to press Facebook to restore his social network account.

“It’s reassuring that I can now protect my own account but it has come too late for Daniel’s account,” she said.

“We continue to be upset that Facebook will not review its decision to delete Daniel’s account nor even have a conversation with us about whether they can do anything to restore the account.”

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