Who will manage your Facebook? Part 1

 In Estate Planning, Executor Help

With 2.8 billion monthly active users, there is no denying that Facebook is the leading social media platform. If that number hasn’t blown you away, it also has 1.84 billion users visiting the website daily. Facebook is now the world’s third most viewed website, only being outranked by Google and YouTube. Facebook also owns Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which are all popular platforms on their own. Over 60% of people using the internet have their own Facebook account and spend roughly an hour on the platform each day. In Canada alone, 83% of Canadians have Facebook accounts. The Facebook mantra has always been about bringing the world closer together, and not only has it achieved that, but it’s dominated in popularity.

Many of us are quick to change our profile pictures, maybe even update our privacy settings here and there – but have you ever thought about what happens to your account when you die? Thankfully, Facebook has some options we can arrange ahead of time. When you go to your General Settings, one of the options is Memorialization Settings. Here, you can appoint what Facebook calls a LEGACY CONTACT. A legacy contact is a Facebook Friend that you choose to take over your account upon Facebook learning of your death. Your Legacy Contact can only manage posts made to your account after you’ve passed away. They won’t be able to post as you, or see your past messages at any point. Your Legacy Contact can do the following to your Facebook account:

  • Manage tribute posts on your profile, which includes who can post and who can see posts, deleting posts, and removing tags
  • Request your account be removed
  • Respond to new friend requests
  • Update your cover photo and profile picture

If you choose to memorialize your account through a Legacy Contact, Facebook suggests that you have the conversation with that person ahead of time so that they are aware of their new role. When appointing the Facebook Friend, Facebook will actually prompt you to send them a message in Messenger to inform them. Another thing you will want to consider is allowing your Legacy Contact the ability to download a copy of what you have shared on your Facebook which is called Data Archive Permission. Assigning the Data Archive Permission will include posts, photos, videos, and information from your About section which may be content that wasn’t originally visible to your Legacy Contact.

If you choose to not memorialize your account through a Legacy Contact, the other option is to request that your Facebook account be deleted automatically once Facebook learns of your death. Once your account is deleted, it is permanently gone and will no longer be visible to anyone.

Whether you choose to assign a Legacy Contact or have your account deleted on death, both options offer a solid plan for our digital estate design.  Knowing about how to both find and implement these settings are as important as deciding what to with the account after death.

“IT hygiene in life affects your digital estate. For social media tools like Facebook, check your privacy and security settings regularly as things change.” – Sharon Hartung

Sharon Hartung says it best, check your privacy and security settings regularly as things change and update so often nowadays it can be hard to keep track of what might be different in your account settings. When thinking about death, Facebook isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but it gives us something to consider. As with everything on the internet, there are options to consider and an impression that will be left behind. This leaves us with the question, what will you do with your account?

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