Facebook deals with memorialised accounts

A few weeks ago we wrote about the rise of digital funerals and the neglect of online companies in their duty of care to the bereaved. It is not surprising therefore that more articles have appeared in the media regarding the treatment of the deceased online over the last few days. For instance it was recently reported that Facebook is launching a new initiative to use AI to manage how it handles memorialised accounts moving forwards. Memorialised accounts enable the bereaved to keep treasured images, videos and posts of their loved ones online as well as providing the capability for grieving friends and relatives to share memories and add messages or remembrance.

Until now, memorialised accounts shared the same algorithmic features as live ones and therefore people were finding themselves being recommended to befriend dead people, send happy birthday messages to people that had passed away or suggestions to invite the deceased to a party.

Facebook has said that these changes will put an end to this practice and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post that they are “working to get better and faster at this.”

 Sandberg also announced that Facebook will be introducing a “tribute” section, separating posts made after an account is memorialised from those made while the user was alive. It is also adding more powers to “legacy contacts”, nominated while the former user was still alive, allowing them to moderate the tribute section themselves.

These developments will be welcome news to the bereaved that have inadvertently been caused distress by the actions of algorithms. It also serves as a stringent reminder that protecting the bereaved, no matter the channel (digital or traditional) should be a priority for organisations – not least because of the distress it causes, but also because of the potential brand damage the practice inspires.  To ensure that deceased customers are removed from mailing lists, please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.