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It’s probably not something we want to think about – but what happens to our social media accounts (or those of our loved ones) when we pass away?

As older Australians become increasingly digitally savvy, many more are turning to social media to stay connected with friends and family and read articles and news of interest to them.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Household Use of Information Technology (2016-17) 51.2 per cent of internet users aged 65 and over accessed the internet to engage with social media in the past three months.

Facebook is the preferred platform for older social media users, with the Sensis 2015 Yellow Social Media Report indicating that 88 percent of social media users aged 65+ use Facebook.

Facebook makes it easy to choose how your profile is treated once you pass away. You can either choose to set up a legacy contact or you can opt to have your profile permanently deleted.

What is a legacy contact?

Setting up a legacy contact in your Facebook account is a good idea if you’d like your Facebook profile to be memorialised for your friends and family to still visit once you’re no longer here.

The word ‘Remembering’ will be added to your name once the profile has been memorialised.

Your nominated legacy contact will be able to have limited access to your account to:

  • Write a pinned post for your profile (example: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service)
  • Respond to new friend requests
  • Update your cover photo and profile picture
  • Request the removal of your account

 

They won’t be able to log into your account, remove or change any of your past posts or remove any of your friends or make new friend requests in your name.

Setting up a legacy contact

To add a legacy contact (or change your chosen contact), go to General Settings in your Facebook account.

Click on Manage Account and under Legacy Contact, type in your friend’s name and click Add. Facebook will then provide you with a message you can edit and send to your legacy contact to let them know of your choice.

There is also an option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of everything you’ve shared on Facebook, including posts, photos and videos.

Have your account permanently deleted

Instead of opting for a legacy contact, you may prefer instead to have your Facebook account permanently deleted after you pass away.

This option is available directly under legacy contact in the ‘Manage Account’ section.

Memorialising a Facebook account

A Facebook account can be memorialised even if there is no legacy contact set up and if the person hasn’t specifically requested for their account to be permanently deleted. The difference is that an account with no legacy contact can’t be updated or accessed by anyone after it’s memorialised.

To memorialise an account, a family member or close friend needs to submit a Memorialisation Request to Facebook with proof of death via a link to an online obituary or a death certificate.

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.