death and taxes

Facebook Is Making it Easier For People to Stalk You After You Die

Yay?

FACEBOOKimagesOn the off chance that disaster strikes on your commute home, you might want to delete your more incriminating tagged photos. Facebook has tweaked its policies to make more of  your profile information available to the general public after you die.

Previously, when a user’s account was “memorialized” after their death, it was virtually sealed off so that only friends could view their information, a Facebook blog post says. Now, their privacy settings will be preserved so that even if their account is memorialized, other users will still be able to view whatever information they made public.

Also, Facebook users can now request Look Back videos of the deceased. John Berlin of Missouri inspired Facebook to make this change when he asked if it was possible for the social network to make a Look Back video in honor of his son, Jesse, who passed away in 2012, which is quite touching but will make any millennial really nervous about what ours would look like, should our loved ones request it one day.

We’re awaiting comment from Facebook on how the content for these postmortem Look Back videos will be selected. A spokesperson from Facebook told us the content in the Look Back videos is selected through an algorithm that takes likes into consideration, so more popular photos are likely to get into the video. Also, she said, what appears in the Look Back video depends on who is requesting it and what content that person has permission to view. So basically, if your parents are able to see your keg stand and clubbing photos and they’re your most popular pics, there’s a good chance they’ll make it into your memorial vid, for good or ill.

The changes are “part of a larger, ongoing effort to help people when they face difficult challenges like bereavement on Facebook,” the post says. But presumably, it will only enable people who didn’t know you well enough to be Facebook friends to look at all your stuff and comb the #rip comments to try and find clues about how you died.

Facebook says more bereavement policy tweaks are coming soon. Hopefully one of those changes will be swift deletion of any and all inbox messages sent between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. We’d like to take those puppies to our grave.

[UPDATE: Information was added to reflect a Facebook rep's response to Betabeat's questions above.]

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