New Facebook tool masks tech industry’s digital death fight


Facebook wants to cheat death. Or at least the laws governing death. That’s how a cynic might see a new feature that lets users hand over part of their profile when they pass away.

The feature is called “Legacy Contact” and for the first time allows users to designate someone who can do things like update their cover photo and manage friend requests in the event of their death. This is a change from existing rules, which only allow loved ones to delete a user’s account or freeze it as a memorial.

Suzanne Walsh, an estate lawyer with the firm Murtha Cullina, said in a phone interview that she is “thrilled” by the move. But she also sees it is an attempt by Facebook to forestall the “Digital Assets Act,” a model law intended to help executors obtain assets — contracts, passwords, digital currency and so on — that may only exist in a deceased person’s online accounts.

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