Facebook lets users appoint an heir for their accounts

The designated person will be in charge of your Facebook account after you die

Facebook users in the U.S. can now appoint a heir who will take care of their profiles when they are dead.

Facebook users in the U.S. can now appoint a heir who will take care of their profiles when they are dead.

Facebook now allows users in the U.S. to pick a friend or relative to manage their accounts when they pass away.

A designated "legacy contact" would inform Facebook after an account holder dies to have the person's profile turned into a memorial page, the company said Thursday.

Until now, Facebook offered only a basic memorialized account which could only be viewed but could not be altered after someone passed away.

With the new feature, legacy contacts will be allowed to write a post to be displayed at the top of the deceased person's timeline and respond to new friend requests. They will also be able to update profile and cover photos, and can be given permission to download an archive of photos, posts and profile information.

However, a Facebook heir will not be able to tinker with the other settings of the account, nor read the person's private messages.

Appointing a legacy contact is optional. People can also choose to have their Facebook account deleted permanently after their death.

Legacy contacts can be added by going to the account settings section.

The feature will be rolled out in the U.S. first. It's not clear when it will be available in other countries.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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