Followers

July 18, 2010

Facebook Ghosts

By Ai Lung Nguyen - July 2010.

TECHNOLOGY - When a Facebook user dies it takes awhile for the company to determine they are actually dead and to memorialize their profile. With 500 million members approx. 9,500 members die every day. (There's no shortage of new people signing up which balances that out.)

Globally 250,000 to 300,000 people die every day, but the majority of them don't have Facebook accounts thankfully. Membership is continuing to grow, but time spent on the website has dropped in the last year.

The disturbing thing however is when you receive an automated message from Facebook, referring to your friend or relative which you know is dead, ie. birthday reminds, events, etc. Thats where the spooky ghost moments come in.

"Its like they're poking you from beyond the grave."

Facebook has had trouble automating the task of figuring out when one of its users has died. So far it has to be done manually for fear the person might not actually be dead and still wants to access their account. (Cyber Zombies anyone?)

The fastest growing age group on Facebook is now over the age of 65 (all the young people who wanted to join did so ages ago). 6.5 million seniors signed up in May 2010 alone... but this is also a group with a higher mortality rate.

Figuring out how to handle the ghosts in its machine has been left to a form which friends can fill out to memorialize the deceased. They have to list a link to a website with obituaries to prove the person is dead. Then it has to be checked manually by an employee, so there ends up being a huge backlog of dead people on the waiting list...

There is 350,000 Facebook users for every actual employee and the almost 10,000 dead Facebook users per day is so overwhelming they simply can't keep up with them all.

The option to memorialize a profile is not well publicized, so many profiles of dead Facebook members are never converted to tribute pages. Hence why they often pop up as ghosts...

The Facebook Form to Memorialize an Account
http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=deceased


Facebook is considering using software scans for repeated postings of phrases like “Rest in peace” or “I miss you” on a person’s page and then dispatch an email to the person to determine whether they respond.

See Also:
Peter Nygard deletes Facebook group boycotting him
Babyboomers becoming lost in the Digital Divide
Facebook banned in Pakistan
Facebook finally posts a profit

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