How to Create a Facebook Legacy Contact

Facebook now lets users designate survivor to manage account after death

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On February 12, 2015, social-media giant Facebook implemented a new feature that enables its nearly 1.4 billion users to designate a "legacy contact" to manage their account after a user dies. This article explains how you can create a legacy contact for your Facebook account.

How to Create a Facebook Legacy Contact
While logged into your Facebook account -- whether via your mobile phone, tablet or your computer's browser -- navigate to the Settings menu and select Security.

At the bottom of the menu, select Legacy Contact.

Next, enter the name of the trusted Facebook user you wish to designate as your Legacy Contact. As you type, their name and Facebook avatar/profile photo will appear to help ensure you've selected the correct user.

Next, click the Add button, after which you will have the option to send a form message to your Legacy Contact that reads: "Hi [Legacy Contact Name], Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948. [This URL links to Facebook's "What is a legacy contact?" page.] Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this."

You have the ability to customize this message before sending it, or simply select "Not Now" if you don't wish to inform him or her at this time.

Once you have designated your Legacy Contact, you can grant him or her permission to archive (download) your Facebook data if you want.

Per Facebook, this includes "posts, photos, videos and info from the About section" of your Facebook profile. This does not include any private messages you might have received from your Facebook friends, and you do not need to authorize this data-archive option.

Finally, if you would prefer to have your Facebook account deleted in the event of your death, the Legacy Contact menu offers an "Account Deletion" option that you can select.

A surviving loved one will still need to contact Facebook and inform the company about your death, however. (See below for a link to more information.)

It's important to note that Facebook reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of its Legacy Contact feature in the future. Therefore, if you designate someone to handle your account after your death, you should pay attention to any alterations down the road in case you don't agree with such changes.

What if I Change My Mind?
Understanding that relationships can change over time, Facebook makes it easy to designate someone else as your Legacy Contact or remove this authorization altogether. (This is the company that turned "unfriend" into a verb, after all.) Navigate back to the Legacy Contact section of your Settings and simply click "Remove." Then, you can either choose someone else or leave it blank.

If you didn't already, you can also send a message to your designated Legacy Contact at any future time by clicking the "Message" option shown below his or her name.

Facebook will send users who have selected a Legacy Contact a reminder every year, which will help remind you to evaluate whether you want to keep the same Legacy Contact or make adjustments.

What if I Don't Want to Create a Legacy Contact?
Facebook users are under no obligation to designate someone as a legacy contact, so if you do not want to do so, then simply ignore this setting. You can also remove a Legacy Contact at any time if you change your mind, as explained above.

In addition, if you would prefer to have your Facebook account deleted in the event of your death, the Legacy Contact menu offers an "Account Deletion" option that you can select. A surviving loved one will still need to contact Facebook and inform the company about your death. In addition, a surviving loved one can also request the memorialization or deletion of your Facebook account, even if you didn't select this Legacy Contact option. (See below for a link to more information.)

Important Facebook Legacy Contact Links
Inform Facebook of the death of a loved one
Request the memorialization of a loved one's Facebook account
Request the deletion of a loved one's Facebook account
What exactly can a Legacy Contact do with my account?
Useful information after the death of a Facebook user

Related Articles:
How to Take Care of Your Digital Legacy

Sources:
"Adding a Legacy Contact," by Vanessa Callison-Burch, Jasmine Probst and Mark Govea, February 12, 2015. Facebook. Retrieved February 16, 2015. http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/02/adding-a-legacy-contact

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