Living on through Facebook

Kelley Stoklosa

Memorialized profiles help friends, family cope with the death of loved ones

For most people, checking their news feed on Facebook is a common occurrence. But sometimes the experience can be unsettling.

“Every once in a while the side bar will say that I haven’t spoken to Kris in a while,” said Laura Vanzo, sophomore history and political science major.

Kris, who is Vanzo’s cousin, died from cancer more than a year ago.

“I hit ‘don’t show me this again,’ but every once in a while it comes up again,” Vanzo said.

In the first few months after her cousin’s passing, seeing Kris’ profile picture made the grieving process even more difficult.  

Facebook has set up a service that will memorialize a deceased person’s page. A friend or family member can request to have a profile memorialized.

“We wanted to be able to model people’s relationships on Facebook, but how do you deal with an interaction with someone who is no longer able to log on? When someone leaves us, they don’t leave our memories or our social network,” Facebook posted on its official blog. “To reflect that reality, we created the idea of ‘memorialized’ profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who’ve passed.”

To have a profile memorialized, the person submitting the request must give proof of identity and relationship to the deceased. Facebook also requires proof of death, such as a news article or obituary.

Memorialized profiles will not appear in a search and sensitive information will be removed to protect the person’s privacy. Facebook will also not release the person’s password.

Once a person’s profile has been memorialized, the profile will no longer appear under suggestions, and statuses can no longer be updated.

“My friend passed away and one day her mom updated her status. It was weird,” said Michella Carlisle, junior Pan-African studies major.

Only people added as friends prior to the person’s passing will be able to view the profile. New friends cannot be added.

Essentially, the profile will be there for when friends and family choose to see it.  

Vanzo said she would like to see her cousin’s page memorialized, but doesn’t feel it is her place to put the request in.

Carlisle also said she thought memorializing profile pages was a good idea, but not everyone agrees.

The group “Facebook DISRESPECTS The DEADS ( WeHaveToGetThisMessageAcross)” is protesting Facebook’s decision to preserve profiles, claiming it is a violation of free speech. The group currently has less than one hundred members and does not actively update.

The link to have a profile memorialized can be found in the Web sites’ help center.  

Another popular way to pay tribute on Facebook is to create a group in remembrance of the deceased.

Groups can make it easier for family and friends to cope. Friends are still posting in groups created for Shawn Wilkes,

Chris Kernich and Jessie Schenk, Kent State students who have died recently.

Immediate family members can also request to have the profile removed completely.

Vanzo said she wouldn’t want to have her cousin’s page disappear because it can be useful when she wants to reminisce.

“Every once in a while I go and look at her photos,” she said.

Contact features correspondent Kelley Stoklosa at [email protected]