Facebook is the ultimate king of the social networking world. Counting the number of users it has, almost every 1 person out of 10 on planet earth has a Facebook account. Having become the most intimate personal diary of ones life, the Facebook account of a deceased person could be an invaluable treasure, especially for loved ones.

But does Facebook also share the same sentiments?

Loren Williams was 22 years old when he died in a motor cycle accident in 2005. Loren was an avid Facebook user and his mother Karen Williams mailed Facebook to maintain Loren's account so she could learn more about her son. Karen had found out Loren's Facebook password and had full access to his account.

But then came the shock!!!!!

Within hours, Loren's Facebook account was locked with Facebook changing the account password. And Facebook wouldn't care much for her further pleas. Finally it took a lawsuit and a 2 year long battle in court for facebook to grant her 10 months of access before her son's page was permanently deleted.

With more and more such post-death requests sprouting up, Facebook has now come out with a death policy.

Facebook death policy.

According to the new policy, Facebook will automatically put your account in a memorialized state if it learns about your death. Certain information is removed from the account and the privacy is restricted to "Friends Only". The profile and wall will be left as usual where friends and family can make remembrance posts.

Facebook also has a special form to report the death of a user -

Close relatives or kin can also request for an account deletion as well. In either case, Facebook requires that requests be accompanied with proper proof of death to discourage pranksters.

Although Facebook refused to reveal how many such post-death access requests it is getting, they are relatively rare according to Facebook spokesperson Tucker Bounds.

It is also unclear if Facebook will automatically mark an account as dead after a certain period of time. Facebook passwords are not usually shared and the most common case when somebody dies is that his account just remains there without any activity or views if nobody reports the death to Facebook. But that would just lead to Facebook accounts breaking Guinness records for the "Oldest person on earth".

With sign-ups pouring in from new generations, some changes to Facebook's death policy is inevitable. Just think about these -

  • Cost of maintaining millions of unused accounts, increasing by the day.
  • Good usernames getting wasted as they are stuck to coffins.
  • Vast part of the Facebook digital estate turning into a graveyard with time.
  • Facebook requires email to register and email service providers would start deleting and reallocating email ids of dead people. It won't be far when you get this message while trying to register.

You can't register because you are already dead.

Its really a tough call when it comes to the emotional and sentimental values of social media accounts. Although you wouldn't care much about what happens after you die, the people who loves you would care much about it.