When someone passes away, what happens to their social media accounts? There are around 30 Million accounts on Facebook belong to dead/ deceased people! How does Facebook handle a dead subscriber, and how do other subscribers interact with the dead persons profile? According to an article on ReadWriteWeb:
“People are starting to incorporate their digital property and online presence into their wills,” saysMichaelanne Dye, who holds an MA in cyberanthropology from Georgia State University. “Although this has not yet become a common trend, I think that one day it will be fairly common for people to make plans for their digital real estate before passing.”
A PhD candidate at UC Irvine, Jed Brubaker, studies death and social media and has written about how both social network service providers such as Facebook and “friends” of the deceased handle death and social media in a research study called Death and the Social Network: The Persistence of Digital Identity.
Facebook has a memorialization process that essentially locks the account of the deceased. Only family members can request the site be taken down, and only family and friends at the time of the reported death are able to continue to comment. No word on how death shows up in your timeline.
Facebook’s current policy, according to a Facebook spokesperson, is to memorialize all deceased users‘ accounts on the site when they are reported.
What’s most interesting about the Facebook death, however, is the chance that it will show up in the news feed.
A Facebook spokesperson explains that memorializing an account changes the privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in search. Once an account is memorialized, no one can log in or out, and only friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. No one can download data from another person’s account, so the memorial must stay on Facebook – there will be no data available.
Memorialized accounts remain on Facebook forever unless a family member requests that it be taken down. Any special requests regarding the deceased should be sent using this form. To report a deceased user or account that needs to be memorialized, go here. And please, think twice before unfriending the deceased. That connection can’t ever come back.