May 7, 2016

Legacy Contact: Designing and Implementing Stewardship at Facebook

CHI 2016

By: Jed R. Brubaker, Vanessa Callison-Burch

Abstract

This is a descriptive paper, not a research paper that is based on any experiments. In this paper we describe Legacy Contact, a new feature that better supports people coping with the death of of a loved one on Facebook while giving people more control over what happens to their Facebook account in the future. Following a user’s death, how can social media platforms honor the deceased while also supporting a grieving community? In this paper we present Legacy Contact, a post-mortem data management solution designed and deployed at Facebook. Building on Brubaker et al. (2014)’s work on stewardship, we describe how Legacy Contact was designed to honor last requests, provide information surrounding the death, preserve the memory of the deceased, and facilitate memorializing practices. We provide details around the design of the Legacy Contact selection process, changes made to memorialized profiles, and the functionality provided to Legacy Contacts after accounts have been memorialized. The volume of post-mortem data will continue to grow and so it is important to take a proactive approach that serves the needs of both Facebook users and their community of friends. Details about Legacy Contacts can be viewed on FB Help Center.