Facebook is bringing a new 'Tributes' section to user accounts that have become memorial pages - as in, when the user has passed away.
Users on Facebook could already set up a 'legacy contact (opens in new tab)' for their account, which allows a friend to update their Facebook profile in the event of their passing (though not actually log in or access private messages).
Legacy contacts may wish to change profile or cover photos, or "share a final message on your behalf".
According to Facebook's help page (opens in new tab), "Tributes is a space on memorialized profiles where friends and family can share memories of a loved one." Rather than simply posting on a friend's Timeline, users now have a dedicated space for grieving or celebrating, making the act of public mourning more official.
Legacy contacts then have direct control over the Tributes posted, allowing them to delete inappropriate posts and decide how public the posts are to friends or the wider world.
The feature is currently rolling out to the US, while the UK version of the help page says it's eventually coming to "everyone on Facebook".
It's easy to read the move as a cynical exploitation of the trauma users experience during the loss of a loved one, in order to increase engagement with the social media platform.
However, having a dedicated and controlled space for what you might want to share also sanctions those feelings of grief, and we shouldn't underestimate the value of a virtual grave to visit.
As we increasingly begin and develop working and personal relationships through digital portals, using them to say goodbye could well seem like a natural end as well.
Via TechCrunch (opens in new tab)