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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 


  1. Hey, I just found the legacy contact post with a link to this post via Google Search and agree with the points in this post.

    My father passed away a few years ago and because I am a tech geek who maintains my computers and my parents computers, I have access to the login information so I maintain the account.

    When I found out the limitations of a memorialized account (even more limited as this was before the legacy contact feature), I was quite worried that Facebook will just decide to memorialize the account without my or my other family members permission.

    Fortunately that hasn't happened and it's been long enough that I'm fairly sure no one would file a report with Facebook about it now.

    I did just login and set myself as the Legacy Contact though just in case.

    I like the ability to maintain control over new friends, posts on his page and tag him in photos when I upload an older photo with him in the photo.

    I don't like that besides the most recent posts from friends, there isn't a way to list his status as deceased and when I play games like Words with Friends or Candy Crush Saga, he will be listed as someone to invite to play the game.

    It's been long enough that it wouldn't surprise me if one day, Facebook's Memories feature will tell me that I have been Facebook friends with him for x years with happy balloons around the message.

    Sometimes I still get emails about friend activity sent to my email (the account points to an alias email address that goes to my email account) or a message asking to use Facebook more.

    In the past few weeks, I started to think about this problem again and wanted to see if there was a better option.

    Sadly, it appears there isn't really a better option.
    The Legacy Contact option is better then the no control of memorialized accounts before but still not a great option.

    1. Sorry for the belated reply - I just now saw your comment for the first time, for some reason.
      I'm sorry to hear about your loss.
      I agree: it's a first step in the right direction - but it's not good enough.


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