Published: April 10, 2019


On April 9 Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced new guidelines for memorial legacy accounts, and those changes were directly informed by research from ATLAS PhD candidate Katie Gach, along with her faculty advisor, Jed Brubaker, an assistant professor in the Information Science Department whose PhD dissertation resulted in Legacy Contact. 

Katie Gach

Katie Gach

A legacy contact is the person a facebook user designates to look after his or her Facebook account if it's memorialized. 

"It’s rare for a junior PhD researcher to have their research impact anything at this scale," says Gach, a digital ethnographer studying human experiences on social platforms. "I’m so grateful to Dr. Brubaker and the memorialization team at Facebook for trusting me with a piece of this important work." 

Through her research evaluating Facebook's Legacy Contact, Gach finds ways to build compassion and empathy into social media.  During the project, Gach completed interviews with Legacy Contact users and provided analyses to help the Facebook team understand how to help people find the connections they need in times of grief. 

Gach will continue her research this summer as a research intern at Facebook.