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Your immortality on Facebook

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I got a message on Facebook yesterday suggesting that I wish my friend Skip a happy birthday.

Skip did nearly a year ago.

It was a bit creepy.  But it also got me thinking about Skip, who was a reader of this blog and an engineer at Apple, and who I befriended over the years, though we never did meet in person.  And it was nice thinking of him again.

The same thing happened when my sister died.  She had installed some app on her Facebook page that kept posting a daily inspirational photo.   When I saw an update from her pop up on her Facebook page, I was a bit taken aback.

As an aside, Facebook has a way of dealing with the accounts of the dearly departed.  You can ask them to "memorialize" the page. Here's their description:
How do I report a deceased user or an account that needs to be memorialized?
Memorializing the account:

It is our policy to memorialize all deceased users' accounts on the site. When an account is memorialized, only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in Search. The profile (timeline) will also no longer appear in the Suggestions section of the Home page. Friends and family can leave posts in remembrance.

In order to protect the privacy of the deceased user, we cannot provide login information for the account to anyone. However, once an account has been memorialized, it is completely secure and cannot be accessed or altered by anyone.

If you need to report a profile (timeline) to be memorialized, please click here.

Removing the account:

Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from the site.
I'm not entirely sure that those are enough options. Why not a third option, whereby some notice is put on the page that the person has died, but you still permit people, anyone, to find the page in search? (And maybe, depending on the family's wishes, permit them to turn off the auto-updates - UNLESS you indicated in some "options" page that you'd like the updates to continue after your death - a virtual Facebook "will and last testament" of sorts.)  I mean, wouldn't it be better for long-lost friends (who aren't your Facebook "friends") to know that you've died, rather than have your page disappear entirely either because of its memorialization or removal?

Now sure, you can do nothing, and the friends will still be able to find the page. And if they read through the comments they'll figure out that you've died.  Still, for me at least, it's a bit unsettling getting "updates" from people who have died.  Maybe since my generation was the first "Internet" generation, it won't be as unsettling for kids younger than me.  Maybe they'll just take it in stride getting annual birthday greetings, and fun photos of the day, from friends and family who passed away years ago.  I don't know.  And I'm not sure entirely sure I think it's a bad thing having Facebook update me on those who are no longer with us.  The occasional memory isn't a bad thing.

I just found it odd, and somewhat unsettling, at first.  What do you think?  Has this happened to any of you?

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