As Facebook plans to launch a new 'legacy contact' feature, Private Client partner Murray Etherington looks at posthumous social media tools and how these can be used in executries.
As reported by Sky News last night, Facebook has announced plans to create a new “legacy contact” feature. This will allow the user to choose someone who will posthumously manage their profile. They will be able change the deceased’s user’s profile picture and cover photo - as well as post status updates and accept friend requests. However, they will not be able to access any private messages. Alternatively, users can request their account be deleted on their death. This feature is currently being trialled in the US, but is likely to be available in the UK in the near future.
It is interesting to note that Facebook already have the option of memorialising a page after the death of a user. However, the current procedure does not allow any changes once this has been done, so the new “legacy contact” is a more flexible option. The fact that Facebook have released a statement detailing this change shows the growing desire by user’s to be able manage and maintain their social media profile after death.
Whilst it is commendable that social media sites such as Facebook are now giving serious thought to such matters, it is important that users are aware of these policies and take steps to provide instructions as to what should happen to these types of accounts on their death. As our previous article on “Digital Assets” advised, you should make sure that you prepare a list of your accounts and provide clear instructions to your Executors to make sure that your wishes are carried out; in association with the websites own policies.