Facebook’s New Way to Deal with the Dead

FacebookDeceasedForm.jpgAlthough it’s a fact of life that eventually, everyone moves on to that big social network in the sky, their Facebook profiles can now live on forever.

According to CNET, Facebook created a form to allow friends or relatives of deceased users to memorialize their profiles. The form asks for proof of the user’s relationship to the deceased, as well as a link to proof of death.

Facebook’s Max Kelly wrote in the Facebook Blog about a colleague who passed away:

The question soon came up: What do we do about his Facebook profile? We had never really thought about this before in such a personal way. Obviously, we wanted to be able to model people’s relationships on Facebook, but how do you deal with an interaction with someone who is no longer able to log on? 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. For instance, just last week, we introduced new types of Suggestions that appear on the right-hand side of the home page and remind people to take actions with friends who need help on Facebook. By memorializing the account of someone who has passed away, people will no longer see that person appear in their Suggestions.

When an account is memorialized, we also set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. We try to protect the deceased’s privacy by removing sensitive information such as contact information and status updates. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into it in the future, while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance.