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Facebook brings legacy feature to UK for deceased members

Facebook has changed the way that it manages accounts when one of its users dies.

The social network has now introduced legacy contacts in the UK, enabling you to select who looks after your account once you’ve passed away.

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Legacy contacts will not have full control over the account, but will be able to change the cover and profile picture, accept new friend requests and write one final post. Vanessa Callison-Burch, product manager at Facebook, said that a user’s account can form a poignant tribute when they’re no longer with us.

“Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialised account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone,” she explained. “By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realised there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death.”

In order to activate the feature, users simply go into settings, select security and choose their desired legacy contact. A message will then be sent automatically to your contact informing them of their selection.

Due to the huge amounts of memories and sensitive information associated with social media accounts, they have often been criticised for the way that they deal with deceased users. Some family members would prefer to have accounts removed, particularly if subjected to online abuse, while others prefer to retain them as a type of memorial.

Late last year, Twitter also changed its policy regarding users that had passed away. The microblogging site announced that it would grant account access to a family member in the event of death and also accept image removal requests.

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Facebook users do not have to select a legacy user, however. They can instead simply request that their account is deleted when they’re no longer around. The legacy feature was launched back in February in the US, but has only just become available for UK users.

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Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.