Dead Users' Ghosts Haunt Facebook

With more older users, site struggles with death
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2010 10:00 AM CDT
FILE -- In this August 27, 2009 file photo, the social networking site Facebook login webpage is seen on a computer screen in Ottawa, Can.   (AP Photo.The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld, file)

(Newser) – Lately Facebook has been suggesting that members contact the dead. The social networking site isn't recommending a seance—its software is just having trouble distinguishing living members from those who've died, making features like birthday reminders and suggestions to get in touch with particular friends increasingly awkward as more older members join the site, making member death ever more frequent.

Many users feel saddened or unnerved when they see dead friends pop up on the site. Facebook does allow loved ones to convert the accounts of the deceased into memorial pages, but the process isn't well known and in many cases users' profiles continue on unchanged after they die. The company is considering software to scan users' walls for phrases like "rest in peace" so it can better determine when a user has died, the New York Times reports.
(Read more Facebook stories.)

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