Facebook will no longer change your privacy settings after you die, but will make you a Look Back video

The advent of social media profiles has created an interesting problem, from a philosophical perspective: what happens to your profile after you die? Originally they would just go dormant unless somebody had your password, but then Facebook updated their policy to place the profiles of our dearly departed into a "memorial" mode where visibility was restricted to only friends. But starting today, Facebook is changing that.

Up to now, when a person's account was memorialized, we restricted its visibility to friends-only. This meant that people could no longer see the account or any of its content unless they were Facebook friends with the person who passed away. Starting today, we will maintain the visibility of a person's content as-is. This will allow people to see memorialized profiles in a manner consistent with the deceased person's expectations of privacy. We are respecting the choices a person made in life while giving their extended community of family and friends ongoing visibility to the same content they could always see.

Additionally, Facebook is offering users the option to create a posthumous "Look Back" video (by 'users' we mean the live ones — they haven't figured out Facebook Afterlife… yet). Reacting to a plea from John Berlin of Missouri, the father of Jesse, who passed away in 2012, Facebook did the work to make it possible to create Look Back videos for memorialized accounts, saying that "John's request touched the hearts of everyone who heard it, including ours."

As the biggest and most interconnected social network out there, Facebook also sees the most death among its ranks. In fact, in October of last year, XKCD tackled the question of when Facebook's dead will outnumber living members, and the answer was sometime in the next 50 to 120 years. It's still an interesting philosophical debate: what happens to your digital presence after you're no longer present?

Source: Facebook

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • How will they know that you're dead????
  • Facebook Memorialization Request
  • My first question when reading this
  • Your profile will no longer detect a pulse lol ! Not sure either!!
  • The NSA will report it.
  • True.
  • they will know when the FB wall getting alot of RIP words and the account havent been used for awhile... or some other ppl or family tells FB that the person died
  • So if you want to ruin someone's account, just tell FB they are dead?
  • When our dead faces touch the cortana powered livesight™ screen of the Lenovo touchpad idea yoga 96 with forked dual boot sailfish/tizen in the distant year of 2018 whilst we press refresh for the last time
  • They'll know you're dead when you stop complaining when they change the privacy settings...
  • I laughed at this more than I feel I should have. I wish I could upvote it.
  • They will know when: the greater entity posts to your wall; "calling you home"
    : that's all that's it.
    : times up.
    : R.I.P.
  • you will be considered dead once you post #YOLO on your own wall
  • Well... I guess I'll haunt the internet after all...
  • Derek, its awesome seeing you post on here more often.
  • +1 to this! I was always a fan of Derek's writing back in the WebOS days, so I completely agree with this sentiment.
  • +1 I wonder if Derek still uses his Pre3 or a TouchPad...
  • How about ya just delete my account? Pfff gone. Don't need me to be cluttering up space when I'm not there to use it.
  • Seems faster!
  • +620
  • +LOL
  • Crazy world... They got access for something more, maybe Facebook should be sponsor any coffin and all ceremonial.
  • I don't want to die!!!!!!!
  • In our modern world, when you die, you now are alive more than ever. Think about how your great-great-great-great grandkids will be able to see your pics from that crazy spring break down in panama city where you hooked up with all kinds of folks, got tattoos, did all kind of drugs and posted it all on facebook for all eternity. Your family tree will be so proud.
  • Preserve the family pride. By the way, how did you know that?
  • Good friends with the zuckster
  • You,my sir have won the internet for today, :D .Cant stop laughing xD
  • Its a interesting thing to think about, ya know? Never has there been a time where so much of our lives will be archived. Whereas you and I don't have much info on our great great grandparents, our great great grandkids will/should have tons of media to pick from to see how life was in the 2010's.
  • Hell yeah! :D
  • LOL
  • After reading this I started talking how many people have used the Facebook Memorialization Request form to play a prank on someone
  • Crazy question, but can ppl still tag a deceased person in their photos?
  • I've already given instructions to delete my Facebook account when I die.  I don't feel the need to live virtually.
  • You virtually live here.
  • The dead profiles should be ported to My Space.
  • LOL
  • That should liven the place up...
  • Man I'll live forever I have a MySpace, Facebook, twitter, Google+ 30+ Different email provider's and a Fuckbook(for lolz)
  • So, if you're dead and no longer have a corporeal form, how do you make an "I'm dead" status? Now as a zombie you're also dead so you could set the status that way, but then your status would be "Zombie". And if you're a zombie will they still memorialize you?
  • I'll get back to you if Rick and Co find a cure.
  • Facebook already has status for Relationship (handful), Gender (I'm not sure there are enough options). Why omit Life status? At minimum there should be Alive, Undead, Dead, Near-dead, Resuscitated, Reanimated, Suspended animation, and Stuck in a transporter buffer.
  • How does it work? Who creates the video? Friends? Or is the video automatically created by Facebook? If so, how does Facebook know you're dead? Can I assume the "video" is a simple slide show? So many questions.
  • This is B.S.! The first thing I planned to do after I die was to change my FB privacy. This is the last straw! I refuse to die now! Take that, Facebook!!!
  • lol
  • Finally...
  • I will never die...cause I'm alive on Facebook.
  • Imagine all the ads popping up next to your memorialised page... Data mine... this person's dead.. data mine... selecting appropriate ads.. Johnsons Funeral Homes - special offer on your next family member.. Isaacs and Sons Coffins... Interflora... Smiths Headstones... 
  • You should be able to select a person to take over the account, to approve any new tags or new friend requests (new family members for all the smart asses out there)
  • Meanwhile.. The WP Facebook app still sucks! Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Many keeps saying this, yet none list any specific shortcomings.
  • Good to hear thay. My eldest bro passed in an accident last month and his profile stays. He always wanted a Lumia, but before he bought one he left us
  • That's sad :( Sorry for your loss
  • Its okay, I just would never want his photos to go from there. I miss him, I still remember him breaking Temple run records on my lumia 720. :(
  • Amen!
  • I don't see how this relates to this website's theme... That and there were a few misused words and needed "".
  • yay xkcd. love that site :D
  • Love the WP app too
  • The account should be terminated unless you request this memorial video, set up like a will. What gives Zuckerman the right to keep our accounts if something happens to us. Would he give us his account and password if someone suddenly erased his life?
  • The last question in the article is probably my biggest concern regarding my GamerTag.
  • I cant wait to download this. I've been complaining about twitter on wp8 for ages.