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Facebook creates 'virtual heir' feature for users to pass on profiles

The social network Facebook has allowed its users to choose what will happen with their profiles once they’re gone.

The company has allowed its users to pick a person to “inherit” their profile and manage it as a memorial page.

That person will also be able to delete the profile altogether.

Facebook’s current policy allows friends and family of the deceased user to ask for a complete deletion of the profile, or its transformation into a memorial page.

However, logging into the profile wasn’t possible without the username and the password.

With the new system, the chosen person will have access to photographs and public posts, while messages will remain blocked.

If a Facebook user failed to name an “heir”, but left a name in his or hers will, Facebook said it will honour it.

Users in the US will be the first to take advantage of the new feature, while Facebook said it will be available worldwide soon.

As The Wall Street Journal writes (opens in new tab), this is Facebook’s attempt of walking the thin line between protecting the privacy of the people who own profiles, and allowing grieving friends and families to access the site.

Google implemented a similar feature back in 2013, allowing users to decide what will happen with their digital profiles once they’re gone.

“We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife - in a way that protects your privacy and security - and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone,” wrote Google product manager Andreas Tuerk in a blog post at the time.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.