With 'memorialized' profiles, Facebook sees dead people

The social network now allows members to flag profiles of people on their friends list who have died, and will lock up the profiles to prevent future searches and log-ins.

With over 300 million active users around the world, it's a legitimate concern for social network Facebook to come up with a solution for what happens when members die. The company has now spelled out the process on its official blog (in a post that's a little bit awkwardly close to Halloween, considering the sensitivity of the subject matter).

Facebook's Max Kelly explains in the blog post: "Obviously, we wanted to be able to model people's relationships on Facebook, but how do you deal with an interaction with someone who is no longer able to log on? When someone leaves us, they don't leave our memories or our social network. To reflect that reality, we created the idea of 'memorialized' profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who've passed."

To "memorialize" a profile, members are encouraged to use a feedback form that asks for some proof of a relationship to the person in question (knowledge of an e-mail address and birthday, for example), as well as a link to proof of death (like a news article or obituary). When a profile has been memorialized, "sensitive" information, like phone numbers, are removed, and the profile is locked up to anyone who was not already a confirmed friend (non-friends can't find the profile in search queries, either).

But for those who were confirmed friends of the deceased, they can continue to leave "wall" posts in remembrance.

Memorialized profiles are also locked to future log-ins to prevent hacking--something that highlights how Facebook will have to be very vigilant about making sure that mean-spirited members don't try to "memorialize" one another's profiles as a macabre prank.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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