Since February 2014, Facebook has been leaving the privacy settings on memorialized accounts unchanged from how deceased users left them.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a Newsroom post last week that over 30 million people view memorialized profiles every month for activities including posting stories, commemorating milestones and remembering their friends and loved ones.
The new Tributes section, which is separate from the Timelines on memorialized accounts, enables friends and family of the deceased to share posts.
In February 2015, the social network introduced legacy contacts, which enabled people to choose friends or family members to handle their memorialized accounts after they pass away.
Legacy contacts already had the ability to handle tasks such as writing the posts that are pinned to the top of memorialized Timelines, responding to friend requests and updating profile pictures and cover images, but they could not log into accounts, read private messages or add or remove friends.
They can now moderate posts in the Tributes section, such as by changing tagging settings, removing tags and determining who can and cannot post or see posts.
Sandberg wrote, “This helps them manage content that might be hard for friends and family to see if they’re not ready.”
Facebook also recently changed its policies, enabling parents who have lost children under 18 to request to become their legacy contacts. Minors currently cannot designate legacy contacts.
Sandberg added, “We made this change based on feedback we received, and we hope it will provide some assistance to grieving parents.”
In another policy change, only friends and family members of the deceased can request to have an account memorialized.
Sandberg wrote, “We’ve heard from people that memorializing a profile can feel like a big step that not everyone is immediately ready to take. That’s why it’s so important that those closest to the deceased person can decide when to take that step.”
Finally, the social network is using artificial intelligence to prevent situations such as recommending that a deceased person whose account has not yet been memorialized be invited to events or reminding their friends about their birthday.
People turn to Facebook to find community during life’s highs and lows,” Sandberg wrote. “We know the loss of a friend or family member can be devastating, and we want Facebook to be a place where people can support each other while honoring the memory of their loved ones. These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds, as well as experts and academics. We’re grateful to them for helping us understand how we can build more tools to help people find comfort in times of grief.”