Facebook Now Lets You Choose Who Controls Your Profile After You Die

Facebook unveiled a new policy on Thursday that lets users control what happens to their profiles when they die.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook users in the US can now pick a legacy contact to maintain their account after they die.

That individual, who must be a Facebook friend, can then confirm or dismiss friend requests, change profile and cover photos and create a memorial post that will appear on the top of the page.

The user additionally has the choice of granting his or her legacy contact the ability to download an archive of his or her posts and photos.

Many things, however, cannot be deleted or obtained by the legacy contact.

The assigned person cannot delete the deceased individual's posts, photos or whatever that person's friends post on the Facebook page.

The legacy contact is also unable to delete the individual's entire account, and they will not be able to view private messages.

Just one legacy contact can be selected, and after the Facebook user dies, the position cannot be passed on to someone else.

If the user doesn't select a legacy contact but names a digital heir in his or her will, that person becomes the legacy contact.

Should he or she not take either action, Facebook will instead freeze the account after learning the user has died.

These accounts can be viewed but not edited.

There are currently hundreds of thousands of accounts that remain frozen, WSJ reports.

The freezing function began in 2007, according to USA Today, and Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth says the social network has since received "hundreds of thousands" of requests from people who want to manage a profile post-death.

Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch said,

We heard from family members who wanted to post funeral information or download and preserve photos. We realized there was more we could do.

A death can be reported to Facebook with an electronic form at its Help Center.

Facebook will notify the legacy contact once the death is confirmed.

Here's how to select a legacy contact:

Go to the downward arrow on the far-right of your Facebook page and click "Settings."

Click on "Security" on the top right and then "Legacy Contact."

Now select a legacy contact from your friends in addition to the abilities the legacy contact will have.

You can choose whether or not to allow Facebook to inform the legacy contact of his or her selection.

Citations: Time to Choose Who Manages Your Account When You Die (Wall Street Journal), New Facebook policy allows social media immortality (USA Today)