Canadians will now have a way to ensure that their Facebook profiles can be updated after they die, as long as they have a legacy contact.
On Thursday, Facebook expanded its legacy contact function, which first rolled out in the U.S in February, to include Canada. Facebook users can now designate a legacy contact who will have limited access to their account after they die.
"Our team at Facebook is grateful and humbled to be working on these improvements," reads a Facebook blog post from February, when the system launched in the U.S. "We hope this work will help people experience loss with a greater sense of possibility, comfort and support."
When someone dies, friends or family can request that their loved one's account be memorialized. Once Facebook verifies the request, the word remembering will appear on the person's profile next to their name.
A person can also request that Facebook delete their page if they die. In that case, the account would be permanently removed from the system and not memorialized. Users can request this in the same section as designating a legacy contact.
Role may be expanded in the future
Once a page is memorialized, a legacy contact can write a final post on the person's page, which will remain pinned to the top of the page.
Facebook suggests this could be a final message on behalf of the deceased or memorial service information.
A legacy contact will also be allowed to update the deceased's profile picture and cover photo, as well as accept or decline new friend requests.
Some legacy contacts will also be permitted to download a copy of everything the deceased has ever publicly shared on the social media platform. Users must give this special permission for archival records when designating their contact.
"We may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in the future," Facebook writes in their help centre section on legacy contacts.
However, legacy contacts will not be able to log into the account, change previously posted information (except for the profile picture and cover photo), read private messages or remove existing friends.
Only Facebook users who are older than 18 will be permitted to designate a legacy contact. No one is required to appoint a legacy contact, as the program is optional.
How to add a legacy contact
To add a legacy contact, simply follow these steps:
- Log into your Facebook account.
- Click on the arrow on the right-hand side of the top menu.
- Select Settings.
- From the left-hand side menu, select Security.
- Click Legacy Contact.
- Type the name of the Facebook friend you wish to select in the box.
- Click add.
A box will appear with a message to inform the person that they are your legacy contact. You can write your own message or use the text Facebook has provided. You can also opt not to send them a message.
If you change your mind, you can remove the person and add someone new, or choose to leave the field empty.
To remove your legacy contact, follow steps one through five, and then click "remove" below the legacy contact's name.