Facebook freezes deceased person's profiles

Summary:Facebook will now freeze profile pages of those who have died to ensure privacy and security to family and friends who grieve. Is Facebook the next generation memorial chapel?

Facebook for some time adopted a policy which allows profiles of the deceased to stay as they are. With the importance of online identities and many more people than before using the online space as a communications tool, when people pass away, the impact can be more obvious than a few years ago.

But now as the world's largest community and social network, the company recognises that a number of users will die each and every day and that their online identities and pages should be memorialised - primarily for others to preserve their memory.

This is a personal one for me as a year and a half ago, a close friend of ours was killed. Through knowing a friend who worked at Facebook, she was able to lock down the profile page to ensure that over time it would become "read only". Looking back at the profile now, seen below and obviously blanked out to remove identifiable information, there are a number of obvious changes:

A deceased person's profile page will look and act quite differently. Once the form is completed to notify Facebook of a deceased person, which acts as a barrier to ensure that not only they know but also that the report is not abused, the profile page in question will be flagged and changed so:

  • Sensitive information such as phone numbers, email addresses and anything on the "Info" tab will be removed;
  • The profile page will be unavailable to those who are not confirmed friends and the profile page will be removed from all search results (in case this opens up for nutters trying to "get in touch" after a high profile death);
  • Once the profile has been frozen, nobody else can log in to the deceased person's account to prevent hacking;
  • The ability to send a personal message will be removed;
  • Any information still standing such as networks they are part of and relationship status on the main profile page will stay - regardless of whether the other person in the relationship changes theirs;
  • Status updates from that person will be disabled;
  • Advertisements will be removed from their profile pages;
  • And any "Suggestions" used on other profile pages will not contain any information or pictures from the person who has deceased.

Any photos or videos uploaded will still be available and the wall will remain open for purposes of remembrance.

Personally I applaud this new policy of Facebook's. Given how we interact with each other in this very technological age, this will ensure we can continue to remember those we have lost as and when we need to.

Thoughts?

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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