Facebook From Beyond The Grave

I go on Facebook nearly everyday as do many of its other 500 million users.  But I never gave much thought to a sensitive issue that Facebook deals with on a daily basis — death.  What is Facebook — as both a fun-loving, social phenomenon as well as a serious, multi-billion dollar business — supposed to do with deceased user accounts? 

According to a recent New York Times article, Facebook used to simply delete such accounts, but after the Virginia Tech shooting, people wanted to keep these walls active to memorialize their loved ones forever in cyberspace. 

The problem is that Facebook’s flawed social algorithm, from time to time, suggests users reconnect with someone from beyond the grave — managing to creep people out or even offend them as they mourn.  And with more than 350,000 Facebook users for every Facebook employee, there seems to be no practical means of scanning profiles for deceased users as of yet. 

Regardless of this one flaw in the system, I must admit that I do find it all rather comforting.  In fact, I still look up a SU classmate that has since passed away and it’s heartwarming to read all of the messages and pictures people have posted and continue to post on her Facebook profile.  I’m sure her parents find encouragement in seeing that their daughter was well loved and will be dearly missed.  May she rest in peace.

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Filed under In The News, Social Media, Syracuse University, Technology

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