What happens to your Facebook when you die? Social media giant updates its systems

For the last 15 years, Facebook has been a key part of more than 2.3 billion people's lives.

It's sparked the obvious question in some - what happens to your account when you die?

In a blog post on its media page, Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg announced some of the new systems coming into action.

"These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds as well as experts and academics," she said.

"We're grateful to them for helping us understand how we can build more tools to help people find comfort in times of grief."

One of those features has been long sought after - you'll no longer be prompted to wish a deceased friend a 'happy birthday'. It also won't suggest you 'invite' a deceased friend to an event on the site.

The social media giant will use artificial intelligence to prevent those painful experiences from occurring, Sandberg said.

Meanwhile there are a few other changes when it comes to your own Facebook profile.

The ability to request Facebook turn an account into a 'memorial' page will be reduced to just friends and family members, with Sandberg saying it can be a difficult step for people to take.

"In addition to creating supportive tools, we also hope to minimize experiences that might be painful," she said.

"That’s why it’s so important that those closest to the deceased person can decide when to take that step."

One other way to ensure your account lives on is through a 'legacy contact'. You can choose a person to look after your account after death - rest assured, they won't be able to see your private messages, but they'll have some added abilities on the memorial page.

When adding a legacy contact it'll give you the opportunity to send them a message, so make sure to reassure them that there's nothing to worry about.

Since 2015, the legacy contact has been able to change the person's profile and cover photos as well as pin a post to the top of their profile page.

With the new features introduced this week, there'll also be a way to separate posts from a person's regular timeline and those left after they died.

Facebook logo on a cellphone
AI will hopefully prevent prompts to wish a dead friend happy birthday. Photo credit: Getty

Legacy contacts also get more control over the page, including being able to choose who can post or see posts as well as what tagging is allowed.

"This helps them manage content that might be hard for friends and family to see if they're not ready," Sandberg said.

Facebook has come under fire recently for its algorithms after the Christchurch terror attack was publicly livestreamed by a user.

Once it was reported it was swiftly removed, and more than 1.3 million attempts to re-upload it were stopped before publishing.

However around 200,000 uploads still slipped through and there's been debate over whether Facebook's algorithms could have prevented the stream in the first place.