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

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

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Derek Kessler

Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, occasional web designer, Army musician, armchair pundit, news addict, all-around nerd, professional ranter, and user of many phones.

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Reader comments

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


If the "Look Back" videos are anything like their anniversary videos that people could make.... uh oh

I kind of agree with Facebook's decision to opt out of messing with the deceased's profiles. Still this is an interesting debate that I never really took into consideration. I still think they should limit the profile to friends only. Other than that leave it alone. My question is, how does Facebook know when someone passes away? Other than using information from friends' posts I couldn't possibly imagine what information they gather to determine a deceased profile.

"Facebook will no longer change your privacy settings after you die..."

But what happens when we're either:
1. Reincarnated, or
2. Re-Animated, or
3. Live on as The Undead, or
4. Our ghosts relentlessly haunt Facebook headquarters?