I vividly remember the day my campus finally became one of the “chosen ones” to get access to Facebook in April 2005. I was a sophomore at Emmanuel College, and I remember campus being practically still as everyone stayed in their dorm rooms creating these profiles that none of us realized we would still have ten years later. We didn’t think far beyond what bar we were going to on Saturday night; we were young and felt invincible, as young people are prone to do.

Many milestone events have happened in the lives of my classmates and I since then, mostly happy things like graduations, engagements, weddings, babies, promotions, and other celebrations. Unfortunately, a few of my friends’ journeys ended too soon. Here we were, the Facebook generation, left with a lingering reminder of those we lost and a question for those left behind: What do we do with a friend’s digital life upon his or her death?

Facebook is making it easier for users to decide what happens to their accounts in the event of their death. Users can choose to permanently delete their account or “memorialize” it upon their passing. This allows for an account to still be viewed but removes it from potentially upsetting Facebook activity, such as birthday reminders. The latest option is the Legacy Contact – which allows Facebook users to pre-select a loved one to gain control of an account upon a user’s death.

Facebook was started in a dorm room by college kids. While they effectively revolutionized the world, I’m sure they were not thinking about the consequences of what they created. Facebook has opened up to users beyond the college-age demographic to multiple generations that spend a significant amount of time tending to their digital lives as well as their financial and personal lives. We plan for what will happen to our physical and monetary assets when we die; why should our digital assets be any different?

Facebook took a proactive approach to accommodating its changing demographics by offering memorialized accounts. By giving users options before their deaths, it allows them to feel in control of their account and allows loved ones to grieve those who’ve passed in this strange new way. And you don’t even need to call your lawyer to set it up.

Image via Facebook.