Facebook ghosts

There was an article published yesterday in the New York Times that discussed the management of Facebook user accounts after they had passed away (see here).  Apparently, as the article explains, more and more over 65 year olds are signing up to the social networking site.  Due to this age group having the highest mortality rate, this brings an increasing number of deceased members that, in fact, appear very much alive and available to make new friends on the website.

So what is the impact of this?

The article describes the effect this had on one user who became quite unsettled after the “reconnect with” tool on her homepage posted her deceased friend.  In light of this, Facebook are trying to establish a tool to recognise patterns of reduced activity and to scan profile pages for regular posts of “RIP”, “Missing You” and the like, in order to deactivate the account or reinstate it as a tribute page in order to prevent any more upset.  This is proving relatively difficult to regulate with many faux posts from jokers.  It is inevitable that if Facebook simply provided an action button that allowed users to identify a deceased user, complete misuse would flood the network.  There is mention of getting relatives or friends to fill out forms coupled with proof of death but facing these issues, Facebook, which was created to be fun, would suddenly become quite solemn and serious. Back to the drawing board….

So why don’t users simply delete their deceased friend from their account?   Even the impact of that would be quite distressing, as though a simple click of a button erases the single remaining connection, one that holds so many memories within documented small talk and photo albums.  This is proving a sensitive dilemma but is certainly one that has to be attended to.

When Facebook was launched in February 2004, founders Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes would have had no idea just how successful their creation would become.  Presently, with over 500 million users worldwide, completely out popularising its rival MySpace, together with billions of pounds in worth, Facebook now induces the launch of the new movie “The Social Network” depicting how it all began.

Facebook is a prime example of what can become of a simple initial idea….people thinking!!.  I just hope one day I have an amazing idea….

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