Different Social Media Sites Handle Deceased Members, Differently
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
It happened again this week: someone died in my Facebook News Feed.
We have all been there, at least once before. You get on Facebook for some simple shallow status updates, and BAM, you get hit instead with a stream of R.I.P.s, photos, and favorite memories of the recently deceased. Suddenly, you post your own barrage of memories of your former classmate, coworker, neighbor, or friend. Tears start to well up in your eyes, and you feel compelled to tell everyone in the room that someone you once knew, is now dead. Ignoring their sympathy, you forget everything else you were going to do that day, and scroll down to search to see who else knows and all other things people are saying online.
Over the next few days, the Facebook funeral procession continues to pay their respects on the deceased Timeline (yes, its ironic). Special photo albums and/or Facebook events are created for the wake, funeral, and/or receptions. Sometimes, a widowed spouse, or a friend, or family member will actually log into Facebook as the deceased person and send messages to their contacts. This can be very helpful the first few days, but it soon feels creepy getting messages from a dead person.
So what are you supposed to do when someone dies on Facebook? I don’t think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had thought that far ahead initially, but luckily Facebook has provided a Memorialization Request form where friends and family can basically tell Facebook that someone is dead. Of course, if you request a memorial page, you will need “proof of death” from an online obituary; that could take a few days.
When a Facebook profile is memorialized, the following changes take place:
- The deceased friends are no longer notified of birthdays, and no longer see them in the “Suggestions”. (Your dead grandmother only has 9 friends, help her find friends?)
- Only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search.
- Sensitive information such as contact information and status updates are removed.
- No one is allowed to log into the account, but friends can still post memorial messages to the Timeline.
Linkedin handless the deceased profiles a bit differently: they simply close the account and remove the profile on your behalf. To have a deceased profile removed, you will need to fill out this form with the member’s name, the company they worked at most recently, your relationship to them, and a link to their profile. It’s also very helpful if you can provide the member’s email address.
I tried to figure out what happens with your Google+ profile when you die, but the only thing I found out is that no one cares about Google+.
Twitter is somewhat like LinkedIn: either you are on Twitter, or you are deactivated. But unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, they ask for an awful lot more information to be mailed or faxed to them:
Ironically, they insist on using email to write you back after insisting you mail or fax them. What happened to Tweets?
I am sure that most people’s Twitter profiles will live on a lot longer than they will. Even if you knew an online friend was dead, wouldn’t it feel wrong to “unfollow” them? Hmm, this gives me a sick and twisted idea….
With programs like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, Twitter users can schedule tweets months in advance. If I was careful, I could easily continuing tweeting long after I am gone:
@PKaudiovisual: It’s getting kind of stuffy down here, can someone turn on a fan or something? #fmd
@PKaudiovisual: Hey YOU, yes, I am talking to YOU! How many times did I tell you not to do that!
@PKaudiovisual: Is someone feeding my fish? I can’t watch over all of you, all the time!
That would beat “he’s still living in our hearts” any day! If I were you, I would expect Tweets, status updates, and blog posts from me long after my death. But seriously, we will all live forever online, in digital photos, status updates, contact lists, and RSVPs to past events.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to go listen to my dead friend’s playlist on Spotify.