From the same people who made it easier to poke your friends comes a new feature to interact with the dead.
According to a blog post on the social media site last Thursday, Facebook is offering users the option to appoint another user to manage their profile after they die, turning the page into a virtual memorial.
Maria Claver, an associate professor of gerontology at CSULB, said that she believes technology is increasingly being used for the purpose of remembering those that have died.
“I think more and more people are using technology to memorialize loved ones who have died,” Claver said. “There are websites for creating online memorials where people can post photos and blogs. Of course, we are seeing more on Facebook, where people set up a special page after a person’s death.”
The individual chosen to handle a Facebook page of someone who has died is referred to as a legacy contact. Once a user dies, his or her legacy contact has the ability to write a pinned post on their profile, update profile and cover pictures and accept new friend requests.
For appointees of more private users, that is all a legacy contact would be allowed to do. The legacy contact would not be permitted to look through old conversations, alter the timeline or delete friends.
“I think it’s great! I think when someone—especially at a young age—passes away [their friends and family] would like to remain in contact,” Kelsey Ansbro, a sophomore business management major at California State University, Long Beach, said. “It’s nice to know that you can to write on their Facebook wall and leave an ‘I miss you” message.”
Ansbro’s excitement comes with concern.
“It might get a little weird if the new owner begins posting random photos,” Ansbro said. “But if they’re in memory of whoever passed, then I see it as something nice to remember them by.”
Ansbro may only have a single concern about the feature, but sophomore biology major Rebekah Spaargaren is put off by the idea.
“[It] makes me uncomfortable,” Spaargaren said. “That’s not what I would want if a person is dead, their networking websites should not be tampered with because it’s not them. I don’t understand why there would be a need to take over someone’s social media after their death.”
As the 11-year-old Facebook ages into its preteens, the demographic of its users is aging as well.
According to a report published by iStrategyLabs, the number of users with ages ranging between18 to 24 dropped 7.5 percent and users 35 to 54 years of age increased 41.4 percent from 2011 to 2014.
Additionally, what-if.xkcd.com, a website that creates “what if” reports, predict that in the next century or two dead Facebook accounts will outnumber those of the living.
Technology is not utilized only for the purpose of memorials and grieving, but also for the process of dying, Claver said.
“Some people going through the dying process set up blogs to share their journeys,” Claver said. “I would imagine that it is healing to be able to say what you want to say in writing before dying.”