The Ghosts of Facebook

When you die, what happens to your Facebook profile? That's a question that most Facebookers don't really think about, but with 500 million members, the problems of death and ghost accounts are becoming very real for the website:

Courtney Purvin got a shock when she visited Facebook last month. The site was suggesting that she get back in touch with an old family friend who played piano at her wedding four years ago.

The friend had died in April.

“It kind of freaked me out a bit,” she said. “It was like he was coming back from the dead.”

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, knows a lot about its roughly 500 million members. Its software is quick to offer helpful nudges about things like imminent birthdays and friends you have not contacted in a while. But the company has had trouble automating the task of figuring out when one of its users has died.

That can lead to some disturbing or just plain weird moments for Facebook users as the site keeps on shuffling a dead friend through its social algorithms.

Jenna Wortham of The New York Times has the story: Link (Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux / NY Times)


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unfriending dead people is strangely disrespectful.

you die and your page still exists but you have no friends?

sounds lame to me

i guess more than anything it's convenient if somebody else knows your password so they can at least change something in your page, that way you're not "driving to a party" until the end of time.
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Like some other commenters - I have a couple of "dead" FB friends. One of whom gets messages from his bunch of friends from time to time when we miss or think of him. It's a comfort.

FB asking me to reconnect? Notsomuch.
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A friend of mine died last year and someone hacked her account. So one day at work I had FB on in the background when a chat message popped up from my dead friend! It really freaked me out although I realized immediately what had happened. When I confronted "my friend" with her lack of earthly existence "she" unfriended me.
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I've had several friends die and then keep showing up as logged into Instant Messenger. Apparently their computers were set to log in automatically, and a family member had booted them up. It made my hair stand up every time.
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