Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s own personal privacy invasion tool is known for failing to properly handle issues of security and personal data protection, but most people assume that after death, your Facebook woes will be over.
Sadly, this is not the case. A Facebook feature with the goal of attempting to pair up users who haven’t talked for a while has a creepy side effect.
Since Facebook has no way of knowing whether users are inactive because they’re busy with something other than Farmville or ‘liking’ stuff or because they’ve passed away, Facebook is prompting users to connect with deceased friends and relatives.
Perhaps the most unsettling part of this is that there isn’t really a solid way for Facebook to become aware of this, without some kind of connection to national birth and death registrars, which probably isn’t as far fetched as it sounds.
Apparently, Facebook does have a form titled ‘Report a Deceased Person’s Profile’ form, although not many users are aware of it and the form seems more likely to be abused for practical jokes than as a tool to solve the Facebook death issue.
One suggestion has been for a button similar to the ‘like’ or ‘comment’ buttons, in the form of an ‘is this user dead’ button. I’m actually not joking.
Another suggestion, and the one that ultimately seems to be the most likely to succeed, is that Facebook servers scan wall posts and comments for terms like ‘rest in peace’ or ‘I miss you’, and have the account flagged for inspection by a staff member.