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Facebook and End-of-life Planning: Steps to ensure your accounts are handled according to your wishes

Shortly after its meteoric rise in popularity, Facebook found itself facing issues with accounts of people who had passed away. Keeping outsiders from posting on the pages, removing the pages entirely, and granting access to loved ones who wished to manage the pages was a tricky business. Now, Facebook has procedures in place so its members can designate a legacy contact, request that their account be permanently deleted, or memorialize the account after their death.

A legacy contact is allowed to monitor and manage an account after the death of its owner. The legacy contact can also request that the account be removed. Why would you want to designate a legacy contact? Your legacy contact may want to pin a post on your page to with a final message to friends and family or to disseminate information about the memorial service. Also, family and friends who join Facebook after your death may find comfort in reading your memorialized account—it’s sort of an online scrapbook. Your legacy contact must accept these friend requests for those people to gain access.

To get to the Legacy settings, open Facebook, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner, and choose Settings near the bottom of the menu (just above Log Out). The last choice under General Account Settings is Manage Account. Click anywhere on that line, and you will see choices called “Your Legacy Contact,” “Data Archive Permission,” “Request Account Deletion” and “Deactivate Account.” The first three sections are related to the account after you pass away. However, the last (Deactivate Account) should only be selected if you want to deactivate your account immediately rather than after your death. To have Facebook delete your account after your death, click on “Request Account Deletion” in the third section and follow the instructions there. A legacy contact should still be designated so that someone will be able to help manage your account’s activity and/or deletion in the event of your death.

If you’re still unsure what to do, follow this link to see Facebook’s help instructions for managing legacy and deactivation decisions:


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