Death and Social Networking

Ever wondered what happens to Facebook profiles when their owner dies? As we previously reported, the social networking giant implements memorial pages.

It can be quite depressing for family and friends to login to their Facebook profiles and see it suggested that they poke the deceased.

The Globe and Mail recently reported about Amelia Shaw, who sees it suggested that she connect with her deceased friend every time she logs in.

Simply closing the accounts of the deceased seems to be more difficult than it seems. Facebook commented that with over 300 million users, they cannot possibly know who has passed away. As such, they've implemented a system wherein family can notify the company of a user's death. Their profile page will then turn into a "memorial" page, with photos and friend messages intact. Alternatively, a family may request the page be taken down completely.

The Globe and Mail reports that these memorial pages grew out of the Virginia Tech tragedy where many of the deceased had Facebook accounts. The memoralization of the deceased is a way to remember their lives, as chronicled by the social networking giant.

While some may praise the ability to commemorate the lives of their beloved deceased with a memorial page, Amelia Shaw finds the entire matter a bit "eerie", as the presence of the deceased online simply serves as a reminder to their lack of presence offline.

Such memorial pages have also been the target of abuse. Simon Thulbourn was killed on Facebook when his friend John decided to alert the company to his friend's "death". Simon was promptly locked out of his account and did not regain access for five days, with apologies from Facebook.

The pages also spark more privacy concerns. In a time when one is worried about the retaining of information after a social networking account is deleted, some may now be concerned about the retaining of information after their death.

From a business point of view, there is competition for where your digital self spends eternity. The website, "From Beyond 2 U" allows one to send messages after they have died by virtue of a pre-ordained automated messaging system. The system can be used to wish your children a happy birthday, long after you've passed away. The website also allows one to write their own Eulogies, to be released upon their death.

With social networking competing for the right to be relevant in our lives, we are also witnessing the attempts to remain relevant in our after-lives.

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Their profile page will then turn into a "memorial" page
So after 50 years Facebook will look more like a graveyard.

Just one more reason why social networks are not as cool as they are hyped to be. deleting the account b4 your final boarding call is the best way to make sure no one is creeped out online. Wonder if the same will happen to forums. Let's start mydeadforumposts.com.

It can be quite depressing for family and friends to login to their Facebook profiles and see it suggested that they poke the deceased.

Here's a more effective and appropriate solution: Get Facebook to stop "suggesting" things to its users as if they are incapable of social interaction. Time to dig out Clippy...
"I see you are logging on to Facebook to interact with people. Would you like some help with that?"

I like this feature from Facebook. I wish MySpace had something like that. I guess I'll just have to ask a friend to manage my page after I pass or something...

That's very sad. I hope that Facebook can get this resolved soon. It's something that they seem to be working towards though, so that's good.

I really can't decide whether this is a good thing or not, on one hand you would still have access to your friends/family pics/etc giving you time to collect stuff you may not otherwise not have been able to but, on the other hand still having the poke facility is not exactly tactful?!?!?!?

As for the pre-ordained automated messaging system how exactly would this work, surely you'd have to put it in a will that they are to be notified of your death so when your kid's/spouse birthday pops up it goes bing hi I'm your dad remember me I'm dead, seriously WTF?!!?!? then they would need to keep them informed of changes email/normal address or whatever else info they require, freaky/creepy and plain wrong. Make a video etc fine, have some company contact you 10 years after your parents died to wish you an 18th birthday/congratulations on your wedding etc is ****ed up and is going to put a damper on any such day!!!

I agree. And you make a good point about notifying them of change of address and stuff. I'm not sure how it would work... For someone with a terminal condition that has children I can see this as being something they may be interested in. I mean some people would want to try to still be there for their children. But I really don't know that this service is the way to go.

Harreh said,
Oh my god.. what a terrible idea for a service!

I actually thought it was interesting, but the plans are per month?? Um... If I die, who continues paying for me to contact them from beyond the grave?