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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