If you’ve had any Facebook friends who have passed away in recent years, you might have seen their accounts switch to a “Remembering” memorialized account.
Facebook recently added an additional feature called Tributes, a separate section on a memorialized Facebook account where family and friends can continue to post. It also preserves the deceased Facebook user’s timeline as is.
In order to set this up, a family member can simply fill out a Facebook form and submit either a scan or photo of a death certificate or two verified documents that prove proof of your authority and proof of death (such as an obituary). This process can also be used to delete a deceased person’s account.
“People turn to Facebook to find community during life’s highs and lows,” wrote Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg as she introduced the new feature earlier this year. “We know the loss of a friend or family member can be devastating — and we want Facebook to be a place where people can support each other while honoring the memory of their loved ones.”
Other changes include letting a designated “Legacy Contact” person have more editing and administrative control over their late loved one’s account. They’ll be able to change profile pictures and pin posts, although they still can’t log in as the user.
Facebook is also working to limit where a memorialized account shows up on Facebook, such as in “People You May Know” and birthday or event reminders. Even if an account isn’t memorialized yet, the artificial intelligence will help keep someone’s profile from appearing in the aforementioned places. This is designed to reduce the triggering of grieving relatives, which could be a growing problem: The BBC estimated in 2016 that more than 30 million Facebook users may no longer be alive.
Now only family and friends will be able to request to memorialize a Facebook account. Also, parents will be able to request to be a legacy contact for minors who have died.
Users can, of course, set up their own legacy contacts. This is done through the general Settings tab, which can be reached by clicking a downward-pointing arrow on the top right of your Facebook page.
“These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds as well as experts and academics,” Sandberg wrote in her post. “We’re grateful to them for helping us understand how we can build more tools to help people find comfort in times of grief.”
“To everyone who is missing someone, I wish you the comfort to face the normal — and the milestone — days with hope and love and moments of joy,” she wrote on Facebook in December 2018.
With so much of our lives recorded and spent on social media today, it makes sense that once you’re gone, you can still live on through that medium and that family and friends can remember and share about you there too.
It’s also nice to think that how people leave their Facebook pages can remain like a time capsule on their Timeline, while people get to post in a separate Tributes space to keep their presence alive. If you like this idea, don’t forget to set up a legacy contact for your own Facebook page.