Eternalizing Our Identity Through Facebook

After one is deceased, their Facebook accounts can become an active memorial for friends, family and loved ones to collectively reminisce. Before a person passes, there is an option in the settings to effectively “immortalize” the account by assigning someone as a legacy contact – an individual who manages the page postmortem. This agreement is a social media “Will” of sorts, where a close family member or friend can be ascribed as the executor of the virtual “estate”.

Memorializing a Facebook page fixes a person’s place in the world, a simulated gravesite that allots a continuous space for solemn commemoration. The page can quickly go from a platform for dialogue between the living person and the world, to an outlet for loved ones of the deceased to grieve together. It becomes a living, breathing, active board of remembrance. In some ways, when one passes, the character and personality of that individual remains intact with the collective reliving and continuous re-cultivation of that person through memories, pictures and quotes. This generally is an effort to depict who that person was when alive and to forever keep him/her in memory. Giving someone legal responsibility of managing one’s Facebook is a form of immortalization, at least on a virtual dimension. Perhaps, this is the preliminary step to what science and technology have been attempting to craft for decades – immortalizing the human body. The incessant desire to grip and grasp onto the human form to the bitter end – until there is no end. Over population? Pay no concern, viruses and warfare will take care of such issues. The zombie apocalypse might be well on its way.

All jokes aside, memorializing one’s page is Facebook’s effort to assist families in their grieving process. The designated legacy contact for a person’s account has only slightly stricter page oversight parameters than the original page holder. Once Facebook is notified that a person has passed, the page will be “memorialized” and the legal heir is able to internally post of the timeline anything regarding times for the memorial services or heartfelt stories. They also have the liberty to post photos and make new connections with friends of the deceased who desire to share their condolences on the page. The company has confirmed, however, that this legacy contact is unable to look into any previously private messages that were exchanged on the account to continue to respect and protect their privacy. The reason for allowing a person to absorb an individual’s account after passing is for Facebook to ensure that a person’s identity is forever protected. For those who are not interested in keeping their account active can always request for it to be permanently deleted after death.