Facebook eternity

Your online life can be preserved after you die

It’s been another year since she has been gone. In fact, it’s been at least four or five years since a former student in my high school passed away.

It is weird to think about because many of my friends still post comments on her Facebook page after she died.

Every once in a while, I will see a post pop up in my news feed about how much they miss her. Moments like this make me think about how we live on in cyberspace, on websites like Facebook, even after we pass away.

Facebook just launched the “new” Facebook, which includes a timeline of everyone’s lives. Now, everyone’s lives can be viewed like a page in our history books. But obviously our Facebook pages will only stay active until our last update, which for most of us (I’m only guessing) will be on our deathbed. It sounds creepy, but for some reason I picture that coming true.

After doing some research, I discovered you can actually download an app that lets you post status updates posthumously. It is called “If I Die” and allows Facebook users to leave a message that will only be published once they are dead. At first, I thought this was really morbid, but this app gives people the chance to say a final good-bye. The video promotion for the app said “it can be a big farewell, a favorite joke, or a long kept secret” and gives everyone the chance to leave “famous last words.”

Aside from the app, Facebook has specific methods in place for what happens to your page after you’re gone. A few years ago, it was a concern of Facebook users to find out what happens to their loved one’s pages after they passed away. Many users wanted it to be used as a source to remember their friends and family online. The company can memorialize your page. But, you can’t just call up Facebook and ask for your friend’s page to stop being active when he’s still roaming around campus. It may be a funny prank for the immature, but Facebook has higher standards than that. It actually requests for friends or family to fill out a form and send a link to an obituary or proof of their passing. It would be hard to emotionally ask for this kind of request, but at least it is available.

After you fill out the form, his Facebook will not show up in any “friend suggestions” and you can’t see his name in a status update. He won’t be in any public search results and his account is actually sealed to prevent future log-in attempts. If you don’t want his page to exist whatsoever, Facebook will even remove his account for you. If not, his Facebook page is now at rest with the option of former friends and family to say their goodbyes and pay their respects in the public eye.

I think this shows how important a Facebook page can be to some people. Most online websites would just let their inactive pages stay frozen in cyberspace. Bigger social media websites, like LinkedIn, Twitter or MySpace, will use a similar method to remove traces of your online-life or memorialize it. Hopefully, we all will be remembered by something more than just a Facebook page. Then again, it may be all someone has to be remembered by.