Facebook finally honours the dead

Posted on October 27, 2009

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As a generation of internet users start to die off, Facebook has come up with a solution for the pages of those who are deceased.

Rather than the site becoming a cluttered graveyard of disused profiles, instead it will allow friends and family to alter the page to a memorial.

After years of profiles of dead people just drifting around social networking sites unable to be deleted (because only the person who set up the profile can do that, and they would struggle once deceased), it seems to be a positive step forward for the future of online networking sites.

It’s infinitely better than a page being filled with spam offering hot chicks and Viagra or somebody’s face popping up in the ‘compare people’ application days, weeks or even months after their death.

Writing on the official Facebook blog, Max Kelly, head of security at the company, said:

“When someone leaves us, they don’t leave our memories or our social network. To reflect that reality, we created the idea of “memorialized” profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who’ve passed.

“We understand how difficult it can be for people to be reminded of those who are no longer with them, which is why it’s important when someone passes away that their friends or family contact Facebook to request that a profile be memorialized.”

A death certificate or news story relating to the death would have to be submitted to Facebook – whether they will be able to keep up with this, or avoid prank deaths submitted by trickster siblings, remains to be seen. Over 300 million active users is a lot of people to keep track of.

It’s a step in the right direction, though, and undoubtedly other social networking sites will follow suit. Hopefully it will help to avoid situations like this one, detailed in a response to Facebook’s blog post:

“You wrote a whole entry that was totally useless on how to deal with FRIENDS (as opposed to “friends”, allegedly) who have died, yet he keeps showing up in my reminders. Reminders that I haven’t written on his wall because he died on August 2. Reminders that someone I love is dead, although FB doesn’t have anything in place to spare those of us who weren’t perfect in our relationships the pain of reminders that we haven’t written on so-and-so’s wall. Reminders when I bang my head against the wall trying to figure out how to keep from receiving reminders from a deceased person whom I loved. Figure it out. NOW. Otherwise you’re callous excuses for human beings and you deserve the pain I feel.”

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