To strike off his name from the country’s citizenship records, a death certificate can be issued but what about the online presence that he/she must have created during his/ her lifetime?
Should your Facebook profile live on after you die? Should it be altered so as to accurately reflect how you lived? If so, is that ill-advised hot tub photo you didn’t know you were tagged in a fitting exhibit in the Museum of You? Are you comfortable with the last thing you ever did on this planet, according to the internet, which could have very likely been ‘on my way to the sauna with my poo poo’?
As per the company’s policy the profiles of the dead were either deleted or frozen, but now Facebook has enabled users to select a ‘legacy contact’, who will serve as curator of your page (Which will become your very own, personalized museum) when your time is up.
They can write posts on your timeline, respond to new friend requests (presumably the first friendships forged from the beyond) and update your profile picture and cover photo.
This is an enormous burden of responsibility for the legacy contact, and requires a good amount of trust on behalf of the deceased. What if they mess it up? For instance we wouldn’t be really keen on the idea of having our family members dressed in black, staring down at our coffin as our cover photo now would we?
If we assume that Facebook is going to be around for decades then there will inevitably come a point when the dead outnumber the living, and it could become a pretty macabre place.
Posthumous Facebook pages can serve as charming tributes, where people can get together and remember friends and loved ones (Yes the word “remembering” will also appear above your name) they have lost, but having hundreds of them floating around in friend lists could be a bit like living in a graveyard.
Facebook has become a huge part of our lives but it’s difficult to predict how it will end up sitting in the fabric of our history. Right now, Facebook promises not to share any of your private messages after you die because the legacy contact will not have the access to log into your actual account and view your personal data (messages, photos etc).
But it’s only a company and can be bought, sold and abandoned. The Thirty Mile Zone (TMZ) of the future might not need to rely on leaks for gossip, everything you’ve ever said and done is already up there in cloud storage.
It is to be noted that the new policy is still in its trial phase and has been implemented only in the US for now.