When you're no longer around who'll be in charge of your Facebook presence? Or at the very least who'll be the one to shut down your Twitter feed and ensure your digital history on your blog or Google+ account remains private and protected?

Facebook, after having to deal with that scenario likely thousands of times during its history, is taking action to make such a scenario a user decision. The social network powerhouse is now providing a 'legacy' feature that notates what contact (friend, family member, third cousin) can let Facebook know you're no longer around and that your profile needs to be shut down into a memorial mode. The feature also lets your 'legacy contact' post information on burial and funeral arrangements as well as approve friend requests and even changing photos.

For those not wanting to deem someone as a legacy contact, they can just give Facebook a head's up that they want their profile completely erased once Facebook receives official notification of death. The new legacy feature became available Thursday, Feb. 12. Prior to the new feature Facebook would only let a deceased's loved one delete the account or freeze it in memoriam.

This is a change from existing rules, which only allowed loved ones to delete a user's account or freeze it as a memorial.

According to one legal expert, the new Facebook feature may be a proactive response by the social network to a legislative proposal called the "Digital Assets Act," which is aimed at helping estate executors gain access to digital accounts, currency and files.

"They must have designed this with our statute in mind," said Suzanne Walsh, a lawyer at Murtha Cullina law firm. Walsh serves as chair of the committee drafting the model digital law on behalf of the Uniform Law Commission.

The statute is not without controversy, however, and is under scrutiny by nearly two dozen companies that believe such control does not require specific legislation.

Google took very similar action to Facebook's nearly two years ago when it allowed users to choose a 'digital heir' for Gmail and other services. They call the 'heirs' inactive account managers.

When a Twitter account holder dies the social network deletes the account per a Terms of Service clause, which users agree to in signing up for the service. Twitter will deactivate an account if a family member or authorized person, serving on behalf of an estate, contacts them with proof of death.

Once an account is deactivated Twitter permanently deletes the account after 30 days. The company will also remove images tied to the account in specific cases; such as it did following the recent death of actor Robin Williams. Williams' daughter asked for such action after photos of her father were taken from the account and altered and then disseminated.

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