Are you currently playing pretty fast and loose with your Facebook privacy options? Probably! Against our best judgement, must of us do at some point or another, whether it’s an unwise public status or an embarrassing profile picture. We just hope you’re at peace with those choices; now, those poorly thought out public tidbits could be viewable long after you’re gone.
Ever since Facebook became our default phonebook, photo album and means of communication in general, it’s grappled with how to handle users’ profile pages post-death. It seemed to have found a relatively comfortable middle ground with friends-only memorialised pages, but as with everything else in life, Facebook wasn’t satisfied. Your family members can still choose to have your page memorialised, but once they do, those privacy settings are staying in death exactly as they were in life.
In a blog post earlier, Facebook explained their reasoning for the change:
Up to now, when a person’s account was memorialised, 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 memorialised 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.
These general changes were prompted by an issue that accompanied the introduction of Look Back videos. A father wanted to see the video for his deceased son, which soon prompted others in similar situations to put in the same requests. So it makes sense that Facebook might want to make it easier for grievers who might not have been friends with the deceased on Facebook. Still, it’s hard not to feel uncomfortable considering that, even though memorialising a page requires the bereaved family members to opt in, it’s not really being done with your consent (unless explicitly requested by a living will).
Of course, in situations like this there are never any good or pleasant options. But turning a person’s absent-minded — or even alcohol-fuelled — decisions during life into something eternal isn’t how you minimise harm. [Facebook]