Does Facebook need a cemetery?

The creators of the Sanctri app believe there needs to be a separate place on Facebook to mourn the dead and honor them.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
Your own Facebook memorial.

Does death disrupt your day?

By "your day," I of course mean your Facebook news feed, the place where all news happens and all feelings are expressed.

Some people feel that remembering those they loved doesn't quite harmonize with cat videos, political diatribes, and news of the latest boyfriend, job, or date.

So on Thursday they launched Sanctri, an app that gives bereaved Facebookers their own area for grief, sorrow, and remembrance.

Four million Facebook users will die this year. And Sanctri's co-founder, Jono Milner, believes: "When someone passes away, we don't know how to deal with it on Facebook."

Some might wonder why such tragedy needs to be dealt with on Facebook at all. But Milner told me: "Facebook is today's public forum. People used to pay tribute in the classifieds section of the newspapers -- now it's on Facebook. Many people want to come together to remember someone online -- especially given that we're such a mobile population these days."

So on Sanctri you can create social memorials, a Lifebook, and even pledge positive actions and make charitable donations.

As Milner explained: "You're still in Facebook, but a step away from the everyday chatter. Grief just doesn't mix with photos from last night's party."

Indeed, the whole exercise uses Facebook-like terminology, but in a cemetery all of its own.

Milner told me: "You don't follow someone -- you 'remember' them. You don't 'like' something; you're moved by it."

Because its basis is Facebook, you might be wondering about the privacy controls. You can make your entry entirely public, only for public view (for instance, you can view the memorial, but not contribute) or you can keep it entirely private, only for approved viewers and contributors.

This is not a money-making venture. Milner told me: "We're just focused on providing a service and community to people that we hope will help them."

If Facebook is, indeed, the place to mourn -- as it is to do almost everything else for many -- then it's entirely understandable that you might want to "create your own environment, which is more sensitive and appropriate."

Of course, given tech's naturally competitive ways, there will be competing virtual cemeteries, with competing features. What will it say about you if you mourn in one area, rather than another?

In case you're wondering, yes, there is already a Virtual Pet Cemetery.