News Advisor Facebook follows users beyond grave

Facebook follows users beyond grave

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Expanding your friendship group online might not be the best idea for the young. Photo: Getty
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Facebook wants to be your social network for life, and even in the hereafter.

The world’s biggest social network unveiled an update on Thursday that allows its members to designate a “legacy contact” who can take control of the profile and even post messages following a death.

“Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family. For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honour those we’ve lost,” said a Facebook blog post announcing the update.

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Until recently, Facebook would create a “memorial” page when informed about the death of a member, but which could not be managed by anyone.

But “by talking to people who have experienced loss, we realised 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.”

For members who opt in, the “legacy contact” will be able to write a post, which could announce a memorial service or share a special message.

The person managing the account will also be able to update the profile and cover picture, and respond to friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook.

In assigning a legacy contact, the Facebook member can also give permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information shared on Facebook.

“Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialised,” the blog post said.

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

The announcement comes amid increased concerns about the fate of a person’s “digital assets” after death.

Legal experts say the ownership of cloud storage accounts, emails and online archives of music and books remains subject to interpretation.

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