Afraid of what's going to happen to your Facebook account after you die? Fear no more, for Facebook has announced new options!
The social media site will now allow users in the United States to select a "legacy contact," who, according to the Associated Press, will be able "to post on their page after they die, respond to new friend requests and update their profile picture and cover photo." Because nothing immortalizes someone quite like a status update.
In a blog post, the Facebook team explains that the user will be able to determine just how much access they allow their legacy contact to have over their memorialized Timeline.
"If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook," the post reads. "Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person's private messages."
To select a legacy contact, users simply need to go to the "Security" settings, select "Legacy Contact," select a person and the level of access they're allowed, and select if they'd like to notify their contact to let them know they'll be in charge. A sample notification reads: "Since you know me well and I trust you, I choose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this."
Hi, let's pretend this isn't super creepy at all. Facebook
Um, yes, I'd think people would want to talk about the fact that they've been selected to handle a memorial page honoring their friend's life. We're no longer talking about scrapbooks "” people are now branding themselves online in order to be remembered.
Last month, Atlantic writer Jake Swearingen asked his parents what they'd like him to do with their Facebook accounts after they died. His parents, who Swearingen writes have always been upfront regarding their postmortem wishes, both agreed they'd like their Facebook pages to turn into memorial pages; although, his mother noted she'd only want it to stay online for a limited time.
Both parents agreed that memorializing someone on social media is a nice way to keep loved ones connected. However, Swearingen's mother expressed her concern that simply knowing Facebook pages could be memorialized might cause users to adopt dishonest habits.
"One of the things I dislike about Facebook is people have the tendency to `curate' their lives," she said. "If you know that this is going to be your legacy you leave, you'd have even more of a tendency to do that. It just creates a lot of fake-y stuff, I think, if you're always thinking about that. It's a double-edged sword, I guess."
People were arguably dishonest about their lives on social before, but she has a point. Social media has given us a way to immortalize ourselves, adding pressure to post things we'd be proud of after we pass away.
Everyone online. NBC
Gone are the days of simply keeping tabs on your friends, sharing photos of your lunches, and poking your crushes. Facebook is now a way for people to create a distinct persona or brand. How many people do you know on your friend's list who you can count on for political rants? How about inspirational quotes or beautiful travel photos?
Since people use Facebook as a means to connect with both people they know well and with new acquaintances"”asking for someone's Facebook info seems to have replaced asking for someone's phone number"”users tend to post only the most positive or flattering information about themselves. It makes sense. If you're trying to impress people from your childhood and also seem intriguing to new friends or love interests, you're going to want to seem like you have a good time, are passionate, and that people like you.
Add knowing that your Facebook page could live on forever into the mix, and you're going to start seeing a lot of well-thought out posts and photos splashed all over your Timeline.
But what if this is a good thing? It's possible that just knowing our Timelines could be turned into memorial pages would prevent people from bullying others or spewing hate speech online. Perhaps just knowing that humans for centuries to come could check out who you were as a person is enough to encourage better behavior, thus making the internet a safer place.
Who are we kidding, people won't stop judging. FX / blackfeministrising.tumblr.com
Of course, one could argue that this new option will just make people even more shallow than they already were, as they try to reconcile their real identities with their online personas.
Whether this makes us better or worse people is up for debate, but one thing's for sure: Keep those tagged photos on lockdown. No matter how saintly or worldly you are, there's always one unflattering picture that could allow others to shame you for eternity.
But, if you're not into the idea of having your Facebook page live on for eternity, Facebook's got you covered. Users will now also have the option to have their accounts permanently deleted in the case of their deaths.
Choices are great, and it's about time Facebook gave users some more power over their own lives on social media "” no matter how shallow or fake they may be.