Facebook has announced a change to the way memorialized pages operate, and while the usual outcry has ensued (as it always does when Facebook makes any change at all) I believe it’s a really positive move for Facebook, and for all of us with loved ones who have passed.
When someone passes away, their Facebook Page can be memorialized. What does that mean?
Up to today, someone (anyone at all) could alert Facebook of the person’s passing, supplying documentary evidence such as a newspaper clipping, obituary, etc. The person’s page was then ‘memorialized’, limiting access to the Page’s content for any visitor to only the most very basic information. The page could no longer add any new friends, and all the content for all visitors was, for all intents and purposes, gone, whether you were friends or not.
Let me be very clear – anyone at all could advise Facebook of the person’s passing. Anyone. You don’t need to know the person’s password or anything else for it to happen. In fact, even if you have the password, you could not gain access after a memorialization has occurred.
What happened to some people as a result of this is that when a loved one died, they could not gain access to cherished memories. Even if you had the password, and could go to Facebook to see all the public content as well as the personal messages etc that your loved one had been part of, suddenly it was all taken from you.
It devastated so many people. Groups were set up complaining about the practice, with heartbreaking stories of what they’d lost through the memorialization. One lady on such a public group said, “I lost my 19 year old daughter to a brain tumour in December 2010. During her last few months, she lost the ability to speak or read and write more than a few odd words. She wanted to keep up with what was going on on FB, so gave me her log in details, and I read out her friends posts to her. After she died, I continued to log in to her page, to keep it tidy, read messages and reminsce on old posts she had written in happier times. Suddenly, I was locked out because her page had been memorialized without notice or my consent! If it had been 1970’s, she would probably have had a hand written diary, which would now be mine to keep and read as I wished. FB is the modern kids diary, so why do I not inherit my daughter’s diary just because it is in a different format.”
Outrageous. I can’t fathom the pain. there are many, many of these stories. To think, all their thoughts, ramblings, pictures, links – could be gone in an instant because someone decides to inform Facebook of the passing of someone, without having to clear it with the family, or even give them the opportunity to download it, is horrible.
The Change and Look Back Movies
Facebook now has today changed this practice. When advised of a passing, the memorialized page will no longer remove all the content from the page. It will stay static, with access to images, posts, and all other content in place just as it was when the person was alive – with access to the content just as the person chose when they were alive. People no longer need be fearful that they might not be able to access a page, and friends of the person who has passed will still be able to connect on the page – something that researchers have shown is important to many people on anniversaries, birthdays, and other special days to them.
Additionally, Facebook has decided to allow people to request a Look Back movie to be made for people who have passed. As the company celebrated its 10-year anniversary of operations and created the 1-minute-long Look Back feature for all current account holders, one family reached out and asked if the same could be done for their son, who had passed away. And the company did. It gained a lot of media attention, and many others then reached out, requesting the same. Facebook formalized the option, and now everyone can request the Look Back video for a loved one who has passed, through filling out the form you can find here.
What this does is remind us all to ensure our social media sites look the way we want them to. If you don’t want the world to see you in a poor light after you pass, then ensure you don’t give them the ingredients while you’re here. Look at the tools Facebook has provided to you to ensure your information is filtered to the public the way you want it to be.
Thank you, Facebook. Really.
To read the full Facebook post on this change, go here.