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September 16, 2019 Beyond The Dash

How Does a Memorialized Account on Facebook Work?

And can it replace a traditional obituary?

How Does a Memorialized Account on Facebook Work?
Your social media accounts won't die with you. That's why it's important to make decisions about your digital footprint early. (Getty Images)

Social media has become entwined in all aspects of modern life. Facebook account holders use their online personas to share content, connect with friends and participate in digital communities. Our thoughts and remarks form a digital footprint that stays online forever—even after death. 

What happens to your digital footprint when you die? 

When we think about our deaths and the things we leave behind when we are gone, we typically don't consider the lasting implications of our online personas. 

Facebook offers users options for handling their accounts after they die. In this article, we will explore the benefits and limitations of the Memorialized Account and Legacy Contact options on Facebook.

Memorialized accounts

When a Facebook user passes away, a designated loved one or the next of kin can contact Facebook to turn their account into a Memorialized Account

A Memorialized Account looks a lot like a regular Facebook profile, with the deceased's photo, cover photo, friends list, posts, and About info displaying as it did during the person's life. Appearance-wise, the main difference is a banner that appears at the top of a Memorialized Account:


The cover image will also say "Remembering" and the name of the deceased person. 

If this has been done, it may be possible to add this obituary to their Memorial Account as a pinned post. The Legacy Contact cannot log in to a Memorialized Account, read private messages or delete content. However, they can write a pinned post, respond to new friend requests and change the profile and cover photos. 

What are your options? 

Facebook gives users two options for their accounts after death:

1. Designate a Legacy Contact 

Do you want your friends to see your photos, posts and memories after you die? If so, you can designate a Legacy Contact, who can take care of your memorialized profile in the event of your death? In your Facebook account, go to the Memorialization Settings section in your account (via Settings > Memorialization Settings > Your Legacy Contact), and choose a trusted loved one to handle your online presence when you are gone.  

Your Facebook account will change into a Memorialized Account. Your Legacy Contact can manage the account, add friends and change the cover photo and profile image. They cannot delete your posts, unless they violate Facebook's Community Standards.

2. Delete Account After Death

If you don't want your Facebook profile visible to your friends list after your death, you can opt for it to be deleted entirely when you die. In your account, go to the Memorialization Settings section and under Your Legacy Contact, you will see the option to Delete Account After Death. 

Facebook won't know you have passed away unless notified by your family. Once they are aware, your account will be permanently deleted. That means that your friends will no longer be able to visit and view your profile, your photos will be gone and that part of your online presence will cease to exist. 

Leaving a deceased person's account active

Facebook will memorialize accounts of those who have passed away. But if they are never notified of the death, what happens to the account? 

Though Facebook makes efforts to memorialize accounts of the dead, it is likely that many are still active and online. While this may not matter to you, keep in mind that an active account can still be tagged, receive requests and have posts added to the timeline (unless you have stringent privacy settings). 

Setting up a Legacy Contact or activating the Delete Account After Death setting can take less than a minute. 

It's best to make a decision about your Facebook memorialization options early. In the event of your death, your account will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes. 

The takeaway

When loved ones hear that a death has occurred, often the first thing they do is visit the social media accounts of the deceased. If an obituary is later published, friends and family of the deceased may visit it periodically to remember them. If you want your Facebook account to be a centralized location for your friends to pay tribute, go to your settings and make your wishes known today. 

Create an Obituary

Thinking of announcing a death on social media? Read this article first.

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

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