Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Social Networks Idle

Facebook To Preserve Accounts of the Dead 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-status-update dept.
Barence writes "Social-networking site Facebook is planning to preserve the accounts of dead members. The new 'memorialized' accounts will continue to display photos and wall posts, but remove 'sensitive information' such as status updates and contact information. Friends or family who want to report the death of a Facebook member are encouraged to fill out the site's Deceased form. The form asks for proof of death, such as an obituary or news article, although it's not clear how Facebook can validate the death of a member if neither of those pieces of information is published on the internet. How long before someone snuffs it on Facebook before their time?"

*

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook To Preserve Accounts of the Dead

Comments Filter:
  • Smart move! (Score:5, Funny)

    by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:28AM (#29884365) Homepage Journal

    They're making a wise decision: status updates and contact information for dead people pretty much define "sensitive information."

    DEADGUY: "Status: Bones yellowed, but still have some structure. Rat finally got away with St. Anthony medallion. Anyone gonna to go the open bar at Styx tonight?!"

    timothy

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:42AM (#29884587)

      I went ahead and reported this user [facebook.com] as dead.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:03PM (#29884847)

      I'd kind of like to see one from someone getting cremated:

      "Heh. Dad, I don't know how you knew about them, but I'm glad you didn't let Mom find those Henta- wait... why are you putting those in that box with the rest of your- ewww." 3 hours ago
      "Dad! Don't let mom look behind my GRR Martin books on the shelf! It won't end well!" 4 hours ago
      "Wait, what are you guys doing with those bags? Why are you going into the basement?!" 4 hours ago
      "Sweet, I'm on the mantle." 5 hours ago
      "Whew, THAT was odd. I didn't know cremation could be such an experience. Now I'm in a bottle. It better be one of those Star Trek urns [eternalimage.net] like I told them" 8 hours ago
      "Whoah, OK, getting a little warm in here. I thought it was November!" 10 hours ago
      "OK, on the move finally. I wonder where they're putting me." 12 hours ago
      "Hai guyz! I'm in Ur Church, makin you cry lol! LRN2Grieve" 1 day ago
      "This is a pretty nice box I'm in. Very comfy! I wish they'd put me in my other suit, though. This one has a tag that always made my neck itch." 2 days ago
      "OK, I'm glad embalming is only done once. I'm drained!:-P" 2 days ago
      "Status: Dead. lol!" 3 days ago

    • Re:Smart move! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by buswolley (591500) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:06PM (#29884875) Journal
      A rarely visiting cousin came over and made a Mii avatar on my Wii box. Subsequently, he died a violent flaming death in a car accident. Irrationally perhaps, I feel like it is my solemn duty to keep 'him' alive on my Wii. Make backups of him. Transfer him to my friends' Wiis.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:10PM (#29884935) Journal

      Anyone gonna to go the open bar at Styx tonight?!

      Who the hell would want to go to an open bar at Styx?!

      First, you'd be surrounded by a bunch of invulnerable drunks. Fun if you're a redneck, but otherwise might become stale quickly. "Hey guys, hold my beer and watch me light my arm on fire!" x1000.

      Second, you'd lose your voice for nine years (this is why the Gods swore oaths on the River Styx... if they broak their oath, they had to drink from the river, lose their voices for nine years, then spend another nine years exiled from the council of gods). So then you couldn't even make fun of the drunken invulnerable rednecks.

      I'd much rather go to the open bar at Lethe, but no one can ever remember who the designated driver is...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrCrassic (994046)

      Doesn't bother me, so long as they don't include them in their "auto-networking" functions. For example, one of my friends who died two years ago came up recently on the list of "people I should reconnect with."

  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:29AM (#29884381)
    Removing that isn't so much privacy as logic. What would it say?

    "Status: Dead"

    "Status: Still Dead"

    "Status: REAL Dead"

    "Status: Excitedly Dead"

    "Status: Dead Dead"

  • How long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pHus10n (1443071) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:30AM (#29884399)
    I give it......Thursday (tops) before someone is memorialized as a prank.
    • by Canazza (1428553)

      2:1 odds it's Kanye West

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      I remember the big issue back in february covered on consumerist: http://consumerist.com/5157481/ [consumerist.com] about facebook refusing to delete people's profiles. Just how long do they intend to retain someone's data?

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "I give it......Thursday (tops) before someone is memorialized as a prank."

      I give it not much longer before the first "an hero" who suicides in order to be memorialized.

    • by Xest (935314)

      This was my thought actually, can Facebook really guarantee the layout of every single newspaper article in every single little town across the world to verify if a report of someone being "dead" is real or not?

      People are going to get memorialised (sounds scary in itself) left right and centre. I wonder do they have an appeals process for this or do the dead not get appeals because, well, they're dead?

      Imagine logging in one day to find you're apparently dead and half your friends are greiving over you, or e

      • by Abreu (173023)

        I can imagine the link at the bottom of the memorialised account:

        "If you are Abreu and can prove you are not dead, click here"

    • Re:How long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PachmanP (881352) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:11PM (#29884947)

      I give it......Thursday (tops) before someone is memorialized as a prank.

      Well when I first read about it, I immediately thought about which of my friends had a sufficiently generic name that I could find an obituary for him. If I wasn't at work, it'd probably be done by now, so I'd say Thurs is pretty generous.

  • How long before someone snuffs it on Facebook before their time?

    I'm sure hundreds have already. I'd expect their friends and relatives would appreciate this service, but I wonder how they're going to deal with photoshopped obituaries. I'd expect they'd naturally try to contact the user directly, but what if they're AFK for a number of days or more?

    • by miruku (642921)

      (apologies for the horrible personal pronoun usage there..)

    • I'd expect they'd naturally try to contact the user directly, but what if they're AFK for a number of days or more?

      What is this, the 1990s? If you're "AFK for a number of days or more"*, you might as well BE dead.

      I kid, mostly.

      * What exactly is "a number of days or more"? Is that just 'a number bigger than an unspecified other number'?

      • by Sparr0 (451780)

        Well, typically the selection of units is based on the magnitude of the quantity being measured. You rarely hear "millions of meters", but instead "thousands of kilometers". In the same vein, I would say "a number of days" tops out around 13 or 60, at which point you have "weeks" or "months" to satisfy the "or more" category.

    • Re:How long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheCycoONE (913189) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:16PM (#29885003)

      My mom died, and she's on Facebook. I know my dad and other relatives want her off because it keeps suggesting to add her as a friend, which is slightly cruel. I think however the processes of producing a digital obituary notice etc. is a little insensitive - it would be best if the process was as quick and painless as possible. I also very much hope it doesn't suggest "You might know this dead person"

      • I assume you don't know her password? If you did, I'm pretty sure you could change her privacy settings so that it didn't allow friend requests anymore.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I have a friend who died this spring and got a suggestion that I "reconnect" with her. Um, no. Thanks.

  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:32AM (#29884417) Homepage

    Be sure and leave a comment on Stephen King's page. Truly an American icon.

  • A Good Thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VaticDart (889055) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:33AM (#29884439)
    This is good. A friend of mine committed suicide a little over a year ago and her Facebook page is the primary place that people talk about her, both right after the event and at various marker points. It's nice to check in on her page and see if anyone has posted anything new when I'm thinking about her.
    • I've also thought about how I have some friends who don't know any of my other friends. If either of us died, there would normally be no way for the other to find out about it through the grapevine. But now with Facebook, we would probably find out by seeing other people's wall posts. I think that's actually a valuable service.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DavittJPotter (160113)

      I hate this kind of thing. By "keeping a memory alive", and revisiting that memory every day, I feel you can't get past grief, and move on with your life. Parents who keep a shrine, friends who keep facebook pages going forward - are you actually moving through your life?

      The person is dead. They don't care anymore about Facebook. Let them fade, remember the good times you shared, and move forward. Honoring someone's memory doesn't mean canonizing them. If that person was the only thing keeping a group

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clone53421 (1310749)

        I suppose you're not big on leaving flowers at people's graves on Memorial Day, either?

        It's not like the advent of technology has suddenly made this prolonged parting thing possible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RKThoadan (89437)

        Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. For some a constant reminder of their loved ones is a good thing, for some it is bad. It depends on the person.

  • Wall Posts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cnvandev (1538055) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:35AM (#29884465) Homepage
    I like the "memorialized" version of the page. How bad do you think it would be for someone to look through pictures of the recently deceased, go back to the profile and see all kinds of "Hey man, haven't seen you in a while...where've you been?" posts... I just hope there's no "Like" option for the change.
    • by houghi (78078)

      I hope there is an 'opt out' for people who do not want it. It is my data and I would like to do with it as I please. But most likely it won't be my data anyway to start with.

  • Did anyone else think "Accounts of the Dead" would be a great George Romero movie?

    • Na, call the movie "DeathBook"

      plot: someone tells Facebook that you are dead and HOW you die by a freak accident. Then, within 24 hours, that said freak accident REALLY kills you.

      Quick! somebody create a DeathBook.com web site!

  • This is a pretty funny "issue", one of those things that I don't think they ever even thought of before it came up... I actually recently lost a brother, and I'd been wondering what was going to happen to his page.
  • ... I'm not dead yet ... He's only Mostly Dead ... Braaaaaainnsssssss

  • On a limited basis; are they now going to be preserving the account forever?

    It was something like 60 days IIRC (probably 30 or 90 given my memory). After this period of time, the account would be deleted.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:39AM (#29884521) Journal

    People won't bother to claim they died if it means it locks them out of their account as well.

    After all, a real dead person can't update his/her status.

  • Next Up: (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:41AM (#29884549) Journal
    Myspace, in their desperate bid to stay relevant against Facebook, will introduce the "pour a 40" option, which is exactly the same; but much tackier.
  • by poetmatt (793785)

    didn't this come up before, and there were serious privacy violations/other issues involving facebook trying to keep up dead people's profiles? I don't remember if it was a celebrity thing.

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:42AM (#29884575)
    Facebook account says he's still alive.
  • that I'm not the only one who finds this creepy. But what do I know, I'm one of those curmudgeons that don't use any social networking sites. I just really hope that they allow relatives of deceased people to not just move accounts of the dead to the Facebook Cemetery, but also to have them removed completely. Maybe relatives don't want the deceased person's posts and pics to be available to everyone forever. Heck, maybe the deceased person themselves wanted his or her account removed in case of death.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by diskofish (1037768)

      Heck, maybe the deceased person themselves wanted his or her account removed in case of death.

      Guess they should have thought of that before they created their Facebook account. :-/

  • Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead.

  • The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
  • by TheWizardTim (599546) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:49AM (#29884679) Journal

    When I found out that my brother had cancer, one of the first things that I did was talk to my dad about getting account info for his email and MySpace page. Matt never moved over to Facebook. When he died, we were able to send a message to his friends, and let people know what happened. A friend of his set up a FaceBook group to remember him. It has been a huge help to read stories and good thoughts from the people who knew him. I am glad that FaceBook is doing this.

    Rest in Peace Matt.

  • Dead for tax purposes.

  • Suppose I give my password to a sibling. Can the account still be accessed? As an atheist, I would be amused if my brother updated a facebook entry maybe once a year on my birthday. "Still dead. Still no sign of god."

    • So, you believe in the afterlife, or you mean you'd be amused, if you were still around to care...

  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:50AM (#29884691)
    Here's a thought - dead people's friends will eventually die. It follows that entire social circles will eventually die. This almost makes me hope that Facebook will thrive for the next however many years so someone can make one of those social-circle friend-of-friend graphs you sometimes see, except animated to show changes over time with dead links - no pun intended - graying out. Would probably be quite interesting and maybe pretty - growing at the edges, new nodes blossoming into existence, old connections fading, old nodes darkening. Like a more random version of Conway's Game of Life.
  • what a spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fulldecent (598482) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:55AM (#29884761) Homepage

    >> Social-networking site Facebook is planning to preserve the accounts of dead members. The new 'memorialized' accounts will continue to display photos and wall posts, but remove 'sensitive information' such as status updates and contact information.

    So... basically what you are saying is Facebook's new data retention policy is "we retain your data forever, no excuses."

  • Facebook is always telling me "Reconnect with X", where X is my friend who committed suicide. It kind of bothered me the first time it happened, although now I just see it as darkly humorous.
  • Snuffing it on facebook before your time is not much of an issue, as they explicitly don't disable the account's ability to actually log in. If you wake up one day to find out you're dead, you can still log in, and that provides a pretty decent avenue for contesting the claim.

    And I'd rather not go into how I know.

    • by Soko (17987)

      Snuffing it on facebook before your time is not much of an issue, as they explicitly don't disable the account's ability to actually log in. If you wake up one day to find out you're dead, you can still log in, and that provides a pretty decent avenue for contesting the claim.

      And I'd rather not go into how I know.

      Lemme guess - You're Jesus and after Your resurrection Facebook screwed you over?

  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:03PM (#29884857)

    ob: Monty Python
    I'm not dead yet!
    Yes he is.
    No I'm not.
    Is there something you can do?
    [thwack]

  • Timing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tarlus (1000874) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:07PM (#29884885)

    Facebook to preserve accounts of the dead

    Does it feel inappropriate that they announce this right before Halloween?

  • by mevets (322601) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:11PM (#29884943)

    That thing jumping over you is a web2 remnant....

    I'm certain twitter will have an auto twat service for the dead. "This twit is no more" "He has ceased to be". .....

  • Well, I guess this opens up a new field in horror writing!

  • until the drive space is taken up? Drive storage can get expensive.
  • I recently received an automated "friend suggestion" for someone I knew who died almost two years ago. Freaked me out a bit.

    RIP Sheldon Brown [wikipedia.org]
  • Why on earth are they proposing to use obituaries? Instead, they should be thinking in terms of the normal documentation required when winding up someone's estate after they die; a death certificate or a notarized copy of one. This isn't as big a hassle as all that, since the executors have to handle all this stuff anyway in order to sort out the deceased's financial affairs...

  • That is not proof of death. A registered death certificate is proof of death.

  • This sounds like a nice idea, but I have to wonder about the estate and inheritance laws issues around this. Any lawyers out there care to speculate on whether you can leave your FB (or other site) account to someone in your will? Should the executor of your estate be granted access to the page to leave updates?

  • They should have a setting in the user profile for what to do if you're reported dead. I'd personally prefer that the account be "disappeared" - same as deleted but the data kept there in case the death report was a prank or something, so I wouldn't lose all my data.
    Or maybe someone wants the data to be kept there but everything locked.

  • I'd like to see how long someone can remain alive on the Net after they are dead. Multiple bank accounts that automatically move money between them, bots that keep social network and email accounts alive, that sort of thing.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

Working...