Thursday, April 30, 2009

Death and facebook

Facebook allows people to share personal information with their friends on the Internet.

It was written by very young people (college students) and appeals mainly to very young people. Nevertheless, some older people are also using it to maintain contact with friends.

Sometimes, a user of facebook dies. An acquaintance of mine, Don Fisher, passed away last October. I heard about it just recently, through other channels.

So, it occurs to me, why doesn't facebook deal with death? In the edit profile section, there is no way to indicate that you are dead.

We ought to be able to designate some other facebook user as our executor, giving that person the ability to change our profile to show our death. The executor ought to be able to post an obituary on our profile, and our friends ought to hear about our death, hopefully, in time to make plans to attend the funeral.

Facebook isn't the only company that doesn't deal well with death. When my mother passed away, we had to contact Melaleuca, a company with which she had a contract, in order to cancel future deliveries and the concomitant financial obligation.

As I carried out these duties, I spoke with someone on the telephone, and they acted as if they didn't believe she had died. Perhaps others, not liking the commitments, had attempted to get out of them is like manner? In any case, we finally agreed that I would send them an official death certificate, and they would release my mother from her obligations.

Unless there is some way to get an Internet connection in the great beyond, there is no reason for a company like facebook to be in denial of death.

5 comments:

Kelline said...

I agree with your point Uncle Bruce. I took a mini course with my husband about financials and wills were brought up. They suggest in your will leaving all your passwords to the interenet activities, so that your survivors can close your cyber-life.

I thought it was interesting.

Nancy said...

My friend's family started a facebook page for her dad when he died. They put the obituary up, information about his funeral, etc. It spread like wildfire.

They kept adding things like pictures of his headstone, etc.

Anyway...so there's that. But I don't know if that sufficiently meets all your criteria.

Abra said...

I agree with this too. Kelli has an excellent point, but there should be a clause somewhere wherein if you're absent from their site for a period of time with no logins then they can terminate your account. If you just decided to not be apart of it and really are alive - the activation part is still available.

Andrew said...

There are already some companies all over this. Check these out:

http://lifehacker.com/5200973/legacy-locker-hands-over-the-keys-to-your-online-life-when-you-die

http://lifehacker.com/5170883/death-switch-sends-out-emails-upon-your-demise

http://www.wikihow.com/Share-Your-Obituary-with-Your-Online-Friends

Myrna said...

I wondered about this after the accident in Taber when "Beans" died. I bet he left a Facebook page behind.