Editorial Board


Story by Spectator Staff

Facebook recently announced a new feature that will allow the user to select another Facebook user to operate their account after they die.

The feature, called the legacy contact, will allow the new operator of the account to control things such as the profile and cover photos.

Members of The Spectator Editorial Board discussed whether this new feature violated the privacy of the deceased user.

The initial reaction from one speaker was quick and bold. One member said a friend died in high school and a couple weeks after she passed, statuses started to come from her Facebook account.

It turned out the younger sibling of the deceased found the account and basically used it as a coping mechanism to continue to deal with the death.

“It was really nuts for a couple hours,” the speaker said. “We had been to the funeral, and to see all of this happening online was strange.”

The speaker said social media is starting to become an extension of ourselves, and as weird as it seems to discuss Facebook setting up a memorialization, expired user’s Facebook accounts have become just that already.

Another member said there’s a difference between a parent posting on their own Facebook about their child and posting on the child’s account.

“That’s just creepy to me,” the speaker said. “It seems like when a life is over, so should their Facebook.”

The speaker said the profile doesn’t necessarily have to be shut down, but it shouldn’t be altered following the death.

A different member said regarding an unexpected death, the legacy contact feature can help parents trying to find closure.

“Parents have struggled to receive cell phones from the police after deaths,” the member said. “Things like passwords for email addresses help families gain an understanding of what they were thinking or what was happening before the death. Legacy contact could give the families the access to pictures and posts.”

The board voted 2-5 on whether the legacy contact feature violates the deceased user’s privacy.

The staff editorial reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board and is written by the Op/Ed Editor. Columns, cartoons and letters are the opinion of the author/artist and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Spectator as a whole.