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18/10/2015

Why Am I Saying Facebook's Legacy Contact Isn't A Good Enough Solution

When I wrote about the Legacy Contact feature arriving in Israel (post in Hebrew), I mentioned it wasn't a good enough solution, and I was asked why. Here is my answer, which I originally posted in Hebrew, but thought might interest the English readers as well. 




The Legacy Contact feature is an important step in the right direction, but the solution it offers isn't good or comprehensive enough, because: 

  • You can't determine that your profile won't be memorialized after your death. 
  • Once a profile is memorialized it can't be accessed, even if you have the correct username and password. Facebook doesn't allow bequeathing neither the password nor a way to access the profile in full, even if those are the wishes of the deceased - the person that this is his or her profile. 
  • Once a profile is memorialized, pages created by the person that this is his or her profile are deleted, if he or she were the sole admin of that page. You can't nominate a Legacy Contact to a page, and valuable information could be gone irrevocably with the page's deletion - including information that could have financial or business implications. 
  • The person nominated to be the Legacy Contact doesn't have authorization to delete posts from the timeline of the deceased, if posted after his or her death. So if the deceased was tagged in an ad or someone wrote something hurtful on their timeline, the best the Legacy Contact can do is report it, and hope Facebook will untag / delete when a member of their staff will get around to viewing the report. 
  • The person nominated to be the Legacy Contact doesn't have authorization to add a Follow button, if the deceased hadn't added one while he or she were still alive. I think that's a pity, cause people might be interested in following up - without becoming friends. 
  • The person nominated to be the Legacy Contact doesn't have authorization to open the timeline for posting if the deceased closed it while he or she were still alive.  I think that's a pity, cause people will probably want to share stories, pictures and memories, and they will be limited to doing so only in the comments of the last post uploaded before the profile was memorialized. 






In general I have a problem with the current system, in which anyone can report anyone as deceased, and by doing so memorialize the profile without even realizing neither the implication to this act (in most cases) nor what the wishes of the family of the deceased are. I also have a problem with the fact that Facebook doesn't communicate with the users directly about this, and just expects them to hear about this feature from the media. 

I wanna take this opportunity to once again urge you to NOT notify Facebook about someone passing away. Leave it to the family. Should they wish it, they'll contact Facebook directly about memorializing or deleting the profile, I assure you. 


November 2015 update: 
A sad example to what might happen to a memorialized profile: Facebook refuses to remove pictures of the deceased with her murderer - and ex-boyfriend, and her family is locked out of it and can't remove the offending pictures themselves, resulting in the family avoiding her profile altogether as it causes them (understandable!) distress. 

Pictures of the late Hollie Gazzard with her killer, Asher Maslin,
still present in her Facebook profile 

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