Facebook has announced this week that it will be adjusting its policy and changing its restrictions on deceased user profiles. The social media giant made a statement this past Friday saying that from now on it is going to be keeping privacy settings for profiles of users who have passed away “as is.” This means that the settings will be kept essentially the same as they were before the person died. Previously, the profiles were “memorialized” after a user died and could only be viewed by family members and friends. With the new settings, the social networking site is now allowing everyone access to the deceased user’s profile who was able to view it before the user passed away.
Before, even if a person’s page had been set to public, after they died, the company would always make changes to the settings of the user’s page so that it would only be viewable by the user’s friends, and not anyone else who could previously view it before their death, even if the user had their settings on public. The the social networking site is now saying that, in accordance with it changing the restrictions on deceased user profiles, it will leave the visibility, settings, and content of the pages “as is.”
The social networking site, priding itself on being privacy oriented, has said that it never provides any login information for a person’s account to anyone else after they have died, including family and friends of the person, but they will, however, take the dead person’s “memorialized” page down at the request of the family. To honor its 10-year anniversary, the company has been creating ‘Look Back’ videos, which are personalized one minute clips for each of the site’s users. The clips highlight a user’s activity and most important moments from their time using the site. In light of this, a YouTube video inspired people working at the social media site to offer families an opportunity to see their deceased loved ones’ ‘Look Back’ videos. John Berlin, a father living in Missouri, had lost his 21-year-old son, Jesse, back in 2012, and wished to be able to view his video. A plea to the company by him on YouTube soon went viral, with over 700,000 views in the initial 24 hours it was up. Employees working at the site quickly noticed the video and decided to offer the videos for deceased users to their family members.
The “Look Back” videos have proven to be an extremely popular feature on the social network. In the first week that they were made available by the site, almost 100 million users shared their video on their pages for their friends to view them.
In regards to memorialized pages, the company has hinted that this may not be all that it has in store. The site may be presenting other changes as well in the near future. In addition to the site changing its restrictions on deceased users profiles at this point in time, reps said on Friday when they announced the change in the settings that there may be more in store regarding this issue coming up in the months ahead. Facebook has been making significant changes in recent weeks, not only with this, but also with its acquisition of the popular messaging service WhatsApp last week, which has been a hot and also controversial topic among many of users of the site.
By Laura Clark