Social Media for the Recently Deceased

[image credit]

An SEO friend told me about an unfortunate situation that he was facing.  A close pal of his from a popular social networking site he frequented had recently passed away. The site in question, despite this unfortunate death, sent out reminders for the deaceased individual’s upcoming birthday… a birthday he’d never witness.

Which begs the question: should social networks be responsible for the initial or ongoing validity of their data?

[image credit]

It’s one thing for social networks to ban spamming accounts, but it’s a whole other thing for a network to keep up with the recently deceased.

Facebook gives you the ability to update your name or put a maiden name, but that’s a user controlled update.  No social network I know of is pinging people to make sure they are still living.  Certainly, your friends and family can post memorials, but who’s to stop the deceased’s social networks? You wouldn’t want an imposter stealing their identity.

Now for the answer: create a tool that updates all social profiles for the deceased to either delete or make their accounts inactive.  This will be tricky, and lots of privacy rights will be at stake.  Still, as more and more of our lives are recorded online, we should be careful to protect the lives of those that have already passed away.

Do you think this is possible, or even a good idea? Let us know.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. David - LA Marketing Firm

    Once we start seeing some better distribution of public records, it may be possible for people to connect their social account with their public record. Thus, family members would be spared the added pain of seeing the birthdays pop up… or maybe a “next of kin” option (Kinda morbid)

    David – LA Marketing Firms last blog post..The Logic Of Internal Linking – 15 SEO Steps to Web Design Heaven

  2. ppmartin

    Good suggestion, Brian.

    I also believe that social networks should regularly double check the existence of their users.

    Some might be deceased, as you mentioned, but some might simply have created a new profile using a new email address (for exemple, some of my friends on LinkedIn have 2 or even 3 different profiles at the same time on that professional network).


    ppmartins last blog post..HK Twestival

  3. Andrew Jaswa

    I recall, years ago now, that Yahoo would disable your account if you didn’t sign in for a few months. It was a little annoyance if it happened to you, but it solves this issue of deceased users. If you use the service then you wouldn’t have to worry much unless you couldn’t access your account for some reason.

    I haven’t run into this practice in recent years, but it seems like it would work with little annoyance to the users.

    Andrew Jaswas last blog post..Wordle

  4. Rick Ramos

    I appreciate seeing my friends who have past on my social friends list. I have lived all over the country, and without social networking, I would have lost track of many of the people I have met, and shared real life friendships with without it. My friends are real people, and so are the ones who have passed. I keep my deceased friends’ profiles in a special category on Facebook, and as my only top friends on MySpace. It’s a sign of respect and remembrance.

    Rick Ramoss last blog post..What the hell is a Trypnotik?

  5. Jeff Flowers

    My best friend passed away 16 months ago, and he had a very active profile on Myspace. It’s odd to login and look at his profile, because it still sends out messages that his birthday is coming up, and his profile displays his age as two years older than he ever reached… very odd.

  6. Lisa

    I myself, don’t see a problem with getting a brithday announcememnt for a deceased friend or family member. It is still the day they were born, and might remind me to reflect on them at a time that was a special day, and keep it that way, special.

  7. Tom

    Personally, I have all of my social media site passwords (as well as some goodbye letters for loved ones) saved on a USB drive I have locked up with my Will.. it’s a little depressing to think about, but I figure that if I do meet an untimely demise, my survivors can disable my accounts. I know not everyone (if anyone) has done this, but I figure its a step in the right direction…
    As for the application, I don’t think you’d have much success with that.. public records as far from being entirely available online… maybe social networking sites could allow you to have your password sent to a loved one if they provide proof of your death? I don’t know, just a thought..


  1. When a Chat Becomes a Blog Post | NowSourcing - [...] Social Media for the Recently Deceased [...]