Since its founding more than 15 years ago, Facebook has established itself as a dominant social media platform – and that includes providing a place for users to share and connect over significant events such as the loss of a loved one. Facebook offers several features to help friends and family members memorialize users who have died and recently announced updates to how the platform supports these profiles and posts.
As Facebook’s role in memorialization continues to expand, it’s important to understand how these features work and their potential impact on your client families and your business. Here’s what you need to know about memorials and tributes on Facebook.
Facebook has offered memorialization options for years, allowing friends and family members to report when a person has died so the person’s profile settings are changed but the content remains available for those who still want to access it. The platform reports that more than 30 million people view these memorialized profiles each month.
- What happens when a profile is memorialized:
At first glance, the most noticeable feature of a memorialized account is that the word “Remembering” appears before a person’s name. The account can only be changed by a designated legacy contact (more on that later), and the content on the profile will still be visible to the audience that it was originally shared with. Facebook does make some changes to how a memorialized account is displayed – these accounts won’t, for example, be shown as friend suggestions or in birthday reminders.
- How users can report that a loved one’s account needs to be memorialized:
Facebook provides a form that friends and family members can fill out to share information about an account that needs to be memorialized. This currently includes the person’s name, date of death and a link to the obituary or other documentation to help confirm the request.
- If a person prefers to have their account permanently deleted after they die:
Within the account settings, Facebook allows each individual user to choose that they want their account deleted after their death. (Instructions are available in Facebook’s FAQ section on this topic.) Facebook also allows immediate family members to ask for a loved one’s account to be removed by submitting documents to verify the request.
NEW: Tributes Section
Facebook recently shared details about the new tributes section for memorialized accounts, which provides a separate tab on the person’s profile. This tributes section displays content posted by friends and family members after the person’s death. The update can help differentiate between the person’s original Facebook timeline and posts that are shared later by people who are remembering them.
Facebook introduced the legacy contact feature in 2015, and with the addition of the tributes section, legacy contacts will have expanded access to the memorialized accounts they manage. Users may designate a legacy contact who will be responsible for their memorialized account after they die, which can include the ability to:
- Add a pinned post that will appear near the top of the person’s profile page.
- Update the profile and cover images.
- Change who can see or post tributes to the profile, remove tributes by others on the profile and change/remove tags for content that others share.
You’ve likely noticed that many important memorialization options may be selected by Facebook users themselves, allowing them to indicate their preferences for how they will be remembered on the social media platform after they die. This is a helpful topic to discuss with preneed families, as it is another task they can plan for in advance to make things easier for loved ones in the future.