Last Updated: March 10, 2012 5

What To Do When Facebook Friend Passes?

Found In: Social Networks

Planned or unplanned, every society has established rituals for handling death. However, we are also creative and intellectual creatures. We are constantly developing new ways to reach out to one another. An unforeseen consequence is the new lines of connection that are left behind when we pass on. This issue is flooding the forums of Facebook. How do we handle the Facebook account of a loved one after they have passed?

The answer to this question is open ended, but the ultimate decision is up to whoever is legally responsible for the Facebook user’s affairs. The developers of Facebook have respectfully developed two options for legally handling the situation. The first option is memorialization. This changes the security settings to only allow the profile to be searched and viewed by confirmed friends. This option also keeps the wall active. If a Facebook account is memorialized, Facebook cannot remove it on the grounds of inactivity. If the user’s family has chosen to leave the Facebook account active, the account can become a healthy place for grieving. Feel free to offer help or support for the family. It is also appropriate to share condolences and kind memories on the wall of the deceased. The love and support expressed through Facebook can be a priceless source of strength for family and close friends.

Facebook is a great way to preserve memory. After a Facebook user has passed on, small gems of an individual’s personality are left behind in the form of notes, photographs, and video. After a death, these things are commonly used by close friends and families to remember the deceased. However, many families are uncomfortable with a continuing, virtual existence of their loved one after they are gone. Some feel that it is in the interest of the recently departed to have the Facebook account removed. The other option is deactivation. This completely removes the Facebook account from the server. Both options require documented proof of death. The second option requires proof of familial relation to the user. These forms may be found by searching hte help center for “report a deceased person”.

After a someone passes, Facebook has two legal options. Memorialization is a great way to remember someone, but may feel painful or inappropriate. Even if a friend decides to memorialize the account, the family still has legal authority to do it. Ultimately, the decision is up to them.