The Ultimate Privacy Issue: Facebook Hassles Your Friends After Death

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.


Written by Toby Leftly

Toby is a Mac nerd, a hardware nerd and a web nerd, rolled into one. You can find him at or on Twitter.

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  • Jim Steinbrenner

    You really can’t blame Facebook for suggesting they “reconnect” with a friend who happens to be deceased. As stated any way to report such a thing would be abused by practical jokers. I believe the last solution is the best.

  • Bing Serious

    Seriously? Why do people even use Facebook. They violate people’s privacy big time. People would be better off forgetting about Facebook and hoping for a more privacy friendly alternative.

  • Angstwad

    A buddy of mine committed suicide and his Facebook page turned into a really controversial site. Everyone started casting blame about who was at fault for his death and it was really unfortunate. The intent was for it to be a memorial, but it turned into something awful.

    If I had know about the report link for deceased persons profiles, I would have used that.

    • That’s terrible that people started pointing fingers! In that case, it would have been handy to have the profile converted into a memorial page and handed over to the family to moderate comments. Like I said in my previous comment, though, I’m not even sure if that feature still exists.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Weird — not the Facebook connections, but the suggestions to remedy connection suggestions with deceased! People can’t and shouldn’t be angry with Facebook for reminding them of a loved one’s passing. It is, after all, a social network with socialization as its #1 priority.

    I did hear something about being able to turn deceased profiles into memorial pages, though. Unfortunately, most of Facebook’s most useful features and information is buried within the site, so I’m not even sure it that ever did exist or still exists at all.