Why you should think about your social media legacy

It’s probably not something we want to think about – but what happens to our social media accounts (or those of our loved ones) when we pass away? In this article we discuss why you should think about your social media legacy. 

As older Australians become increasingly digitally savvy, many are turning to social media to stay connected with friends and family.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 51.2 percent of internet users aged 65 and over accessed the internet to engage with social media in the past three months.

Facebook is the preferred platform for older social media users, with the Sensis 2015 Yellow Social Media Report indicating that 88 percent of social media users aged 65+ use Facebook.

Facebook makes it easy to choose how your profile is treated once you pass away. You can either choose to set up a legacy contact or you can opt to have your profile permanently deleted.

What is a legacy contact?

Setting up a legacy contact in your Facebook account is a good idea if you’d like your Facebook profile to be memorialised. This allows your friends and family to still visit the page once you’re no longer here.

The word ‘Remembering’ will be added to your name once the profile has been memorialised.

Your nominated legacy contact will be able to have limited access to your account to:

  • Write a pinned post for your profile. For example, to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service.
  • Respond to new friend requests.
  • Update your cover photo and profile picture.
  • Request the removal of your account.

They won’t be able to log into your account, remove or change any of your past posts or remove any of your friends or make new friend requests in your name.

Setting up a legacy contact

To add a legacy contact (or change your chosen contact), go to General Settings in your Facebook account.

Click on Manage Account and under Legacy Contact, type in your friend’s name and click Add. Facebook will then provide you with a message you can edit and send to your legacy contact to let them know of your choice.

There is also an option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of everything you’ve shared on Facebook.

Have your account permanently deleted

Instead of opting for a legacy contact, you may prefer instead to have your Facebook account permanently deleted after you pass away.

This option is available directly under legacy contact in the ‘Manage Account’ section.

Memorialising a Facebook account

A Facebook account can still be memorialised even if there is no legacy contact set up. The difference is that an account with no legacy contact can’t be updated or accessed by anyone after it’s memorialised.

To memorialise an account, a family member or close friend needs to submit a Memorialisation Request to Facebook with proof of death via a link to an online obituary or a death certificate.

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