Legacy Contact – You Decide What Happens to Your Social Network When You Die

Blake 9 mos

John H. Smith of Levittown passed away suddenly Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, at his residence. He was 25. No parent ever wants to see this in the paper about their child. They always remember their child as in the photo above.

The article on Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2015/02/13/facebook-legacy-contact-lets-you-decide-what-happens-to-your-social-network-when-you-die/ discusses legacy contacts for your social network sites when you die. What it leaves out are so many details and legal implications for parents and loved ones.

The article on boingboing.net by Lisa Katayama states that Facebook accounts can be memorialized by family and friends who are already confirmed friends on Facebook by the deceased. http://boingboing.net/2009/10/26/how-to-memorialize-f.html Really? The 2000 close friends get to post photos of the deceased of someone who is 25 years old? Maybe someone who is 18 or 19 years old? So someone who is a casual acquaintance may post a photo of a friend at a party doing something that would be very upsetting to a grieving parent. Information that the child did not want the parent to know and what is the point now?  Does the parent need to know this information or even want to remember their child this way?  Does this add additional hurt to an already grieving parent? Facebook has now allowed a casual acquaintance to intrude on a grief that someone so young and casually connected to the deceased cannot even begin to fathom.

If indeed the parent is a confirmed friend on Facebook. Many young adults do not want to friend their parents on Facebook.  They do not want to share with their parents some of what they are doing. The teenager/young adult and parent dilemma is as old as time itself. With maturity, the child usually comes to understand the parent was only trying to protect them and loved them deeply. When that child dies before that epiphany happens, that natural process has been disrupted and now it is a group of friends in charge of their legacy.

See the gentleman’s dilemma below on his sons suicide. He cannot have access to his sons social media to find out what was going on in his life before he took it. Again, Really???

Facebook Dead Profiles

I believe that as with any new frontier, it takes time to sort out laws and rights. Unfortunately, for those who lost a young child during the social media revolution, they will not get the peace or dignity of grieving their child as parents before them have. Perhaps though, they can preserve what is good about the social media grieving process and work to change the laws for future generations of parents who have lost a child.

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One Response to Legacy Contact – You Decide What Happens to Your Social Network When You Die

  1. sydhavely says:

    Quite poignant and profound post, Margaret. Thank you.

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