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Facebook Glitch Tells Users They’re Dead


A glitch on Facebook told users across the nation they were dead, setting off a barrage of jokes and comical headlines.

A large number of users last week reported that their profile page on the world’s largest social network was topped with a message that referred to them by name — as if they were dead — while linking to a feature that “memorializes” the page of someone who has died, The Associated Press reports.

“This was a terrible error that we have now fixed,” Facebook said in a statement. “We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it.”

Planing for your ‘Digital Death’

Facebook legacy timeline

Facebook has several features that allows users to indicate who will have access to their social media account after death.

Users have the option of appointing a “legacy contact.” Once Facebook is informed of an individual’s death, the appointed contact will be able to download and archive the decedent’s photos, posts and profile information shared through the social networking service.

The “legacy contact” will neither be able to login as the person who died nor view private messages. Users can also choose to have their Facebook account permanently deleted.

“Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family. For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honor those we’ve lost,” according to a press statement. “When a person passes away, their account can become a memorial of their life, friendships and experiences.”

Users can change their preferences through the website’s security page.

Prior to the update, Facebook offered only a static “memorialized account,” which although viewable, could not be managed by anyone. Memorial profiles will remain, but the redesign now places “remembering” above the decedent’s name. The “legacy contact” may pin posts to the timeline or update profile pictures.

Facebook, originally designed for college students, now boasts more than one billion active users. In recent years, memorial profiles have become places where family and friends grieve and interact with each other.

In 2013, Google began offering a similar tool allowing users to decide who will have access to their “digital file cabinet,” often consisting of photos, files and emails.