Published on March 17th, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria0
Who Gets Your Facebook When You Die?
Oh, this is awkward- could you imagine your mom or dad logging in to your Facebook, grieving you and desperately seeking a connection- only to find clumsily flirtatious or pettily gossiping private messages behind the settings you so painfully exacted to prevent them from seeing the racier or bitchier facets of your personality?
But it’s a good question… what does happen to first-user access to your Facebook account when you die? Can no one ever log on as you again? I’ve often wondered when spying upon the still-existing Facebook page of my recently deceased former boyfriend, if I sent him a message, would someone read it? (I should note that in my mind, Facebook and his death are firmly linked- it was only after logging on to the service and viewing his page that I’d learned he had died- a strange experience, but not one that is as bad as it sounds insofar as is there any good way to find out someone you love has died unexpectedly?)
And interactions as such are kind of at the heart of the question- should Facebook allow the situation to occur, it isn’t just your beyond the grave privacy being violated. It’s your girlfriend’s. Or your best friend’s dirty divorce details being leaked. Or your co-worker’s concern about sexual harassment in the office. Or the woman in New York who always misses you and regrets missing her last chances to say so, and is tired of telling people how upset she still is that you left without saying goodbye. Ad infinitum.
The Washington Post spoke to Karen Williams, whose young adult son was killed in a motorcycle accident back in 2005. Aching for a final connection with her son, Williams contacted the company about logging on with his password, of which she was already in possession. Williams explains that the company basically defriended her:
“I wanted full and unobstructed access, and they balked at that… It was heartbreaking. I was a parent grasping at straws to get anything I could get.”
Williams said within two hours, her son’s account was locked down and inaccessible to her. Which is, in a way, heartbreaking- the young man is beyond caring about his secrets, but in a way, it’s kind of comforting. Perhaps Facebook should consider adding a provision for allowing the unconcerned to pass their Facebook access along to grieving loved ones in the event of their deaths, but one would also think the deceased should have a pre-death say in the matter.
Would you mind your parents, spouse or siblings logging in to your Facebook account when you die?