February 6, 2012

the deceased of Facebook.

for a while now, i've been wondering what Facebook's plans are for the accounts of the deceased, especially since the new Timeline profiles have rolled out. it seems like Facebook's goal is to be an online scrapbook of your entire life, starting with birth at the very bottom of the page (with the creepy baby silhouette). so they must've taken into consideration what happens when the user passes away, right? (creepy coffin silhouette at the top of the Timeline?) i don't know anyone who's passed away since the Timeline feature rolled out, but i do know a few people who had Facebook accounts and have died in the last couple years. their wall becomes a public grieving place, with "RIP"s and final words and notes. and it continues for months and months. i just checked the page of a FB friend who died over a year and a half ago, and the most recent post on her wall was from 4 days ago. it seems like Facebook doesn't really do anything.

one of the blogs i follow is called the Death Reference Desk, and Sunday's post was on this very topic. first of all, they estimate that 19,000 FB users die every single day. whoa. second, turns out there is a plan for deceased users. a friend or relative can request that Facebook "memorialize" the deceased's account. this is what happens (from a FB blog post):

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.

fascinating. i would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the discussion at FB headquarters about all this. i wonder if Facebook will count those accounts as "active", adding to their 800 million and growing. if so,
Facebook could eventually have more accounts than people currently alive on the planet.

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