A while ago I wrote two posts, one about Facebook learning to deal with Death and the second asking the question what happens to your digital self when you die ? Yes, FaceBook did come up with a solution to Memorize pages of friends who were no longer amongst us, but Facebook has now gone one Up with the concept of a sort of a virtual cemetery: a place where people could record their thoughts, memories and life lessons for their family and the public to learn from and discuss. Our Facebook pages are our living testaments. They feature some of our most important memories, the people we care about, and in some cases, our life’s work. They’re a version of our autobiographies and when we die, they can serve as a form of our obituaries.
If your friends have lost someone recently, you’ve probably seen them mourn and celebrate the person’s life online. Sometimes friends or family will create a group dedicated to the memory of that person., and people will add in the memories that they have had with them. When the family or close relatives of that person visits the page, I imagine the feeling is rich and meaningful in a way that’s different from visiting the cemetery.
Facebook’s addition of the ability to “memorialize” pages — a policy born of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was a good start. Memorializing pages turns a personal page into a memorial page. The page is only accessible to confirmed friends and sensitive information like phone numbers and status updates are removed to protect the privacy of the individual. Friends can leave messages on the page and look at the deceased person’s wall postings and photos.
If nobody goes through the process of having the page memorialized or taken down, the page lives on indefinitely and can lead to the jarring experience of seeing their photo pop up on your page with a message to “say hello” to them or add them as a friend. Facebook sets up those notifications to get infrequent users more involved so, naturally, people who have died are among those who show up most.
I suggest to utilize groups and group discussions to mourn and remember the deceased. The group pages allow anyone to join, not just people who were Facebook friends with the deceased. Groups are set up to be more of a community so it facilitates interaction among people. People can discuss specific memories, or upload photos for example.
Facebook doesn’t have specific numbers of memorialized pages or groups, but as Facebook users get older, the numbers will increase. Perhaps someday there will be more memorial pages than pages for living people.
To report a deceased person’s profile on Facebook, and turn it into a memorialized account.
For more information on creating and managing a Facebook group.