Facebook to let users nominate online heirs

San Francisco: Facebook has announced that it will allow users to designate a family member as their online "heir" to manage their account and make comments in their name after their death.

According to the announcement made Thursday, the heir will also be able to respond to requests from the deceased person's friends or relatives, who are not connected on Facebook, update the photo in the person's profile and file comments and photos of the deceased person on the social network.

Facebook
Representational picture

The service initially will be available only in the US, although Facebook is planning to expand it to other countries.

If the users prefer, they will also be able to inform Facebook to close the deceased person's account.

Till now, the social network, after receiving notification that a person has died, allowed the account to remain online, but frozen -- or "memorialised" -- and thus without the possibility of editing it.

"By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realised there is more we can do to support those who are grieving..." Facebook said.

Less than a dozen US states have laws to regulate online activities.

Virginia, for instance, allows the parents or legal representatives of a Facebook user to take control of the account if the user dies.

Google in 2013 became the first large Internet firm to allow users to select online heirs for Gmail accounts and cloud storage services, among other things.

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