By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer
People turn to Facebook to find community during life’s highs and lows. 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.
Today we’re sharing updates to make this experience even more supportive for our community: a new tributes section for memorialized accounts; additional controls for people who manage memorialized accounts; and improved AI to keep the profile of a deceased loved one from appearing in painful ways.
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.
Introducing a New Tributes Section
Over 30 million people view memorialized profiles every month to post stories, commemorate milestones and remember those who have passed away. The new tributes section expands on this, creating a separate tab on memorialized profiles where friends and family can share posts — all while preserving the original timeline of their loved one. This lets people see the types of posts that are most helpful to them as they grieve and remember their loved ones.
Additional Controls for Legacy Contacts
In 2015 we introduced a feature that lets people choose a legacy contact — a family member or friend entrusted to care for their Facebook account when they pass away. Since then, we’ve heard that legacy contacts wish they could do more to manage the memorialized accounts they look after.
Legacy contacts can now moderate the posts shared to the new tributes section by changing tagging settings, removing tags and editing who can post and see posts. This helps them manage content that might be hard for friends and family to see if they’re not ready. These new controls build on features we’ve had in place for years, like the ability to update the person’s profile picture and cover photo, and to pin a post to the top of their profile (often used for things like information about memorial services).
While minors can’t select legacy contacts, we recently changed our policies to let parents who have lost children under 18 to request to become their legacy contact. We made this change based on feedback we received, and we hope it will provide some assistance to grieving parents.
Memorialization and AI
In addition to creating supportive tools, we also hope to minimize experiences that might be painful. 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. Now we are only allowing friends and family members to request to have an account memorialized.
If an account hasn’t yet been memorialized, we use AI to help keep it from showing up in places that might cause distress, like recommending that person be invited to events or sending a birthday reminder to their friends. We’re working to get better and faster at this. (Updated on April 9, 2019 at 9:50AM PT to clarify that we use AI this way before an account has been memorialized.)
We’ll continue to build on these changes as we hear more feedback. We hope Facebook remains a place where the memory and spirit of our loved ones can be celebrated and live on.