Suggestion: Memorialize Facebook Friends Who Have Passed Away

Facebook is re-explaining a little-known feature that helps friends and loved ones celebrate the lives of users who have passed away. The company has been taking requests to “memorialize” deceased users profiles for some time. But in the redesign it rolled out last Friday, there’s a new “Suggestions” feature that shows you friends who are not active on the site. It asks users to somehow interact with them, doing things like recommending other friends to them, or writing on their wall.

This feature has apparently been making for some awkward moments if you’re friends with someone on Facebook who has passed away, as All Facebook notes.

So the company is reminding users to make sure to tell Facebook if a friend has passed on in order to keep their information out of Suggestions. That form is here. More about the “memorialized” feature, from a company blog post today:

When an account is memorialized, we also set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. We try to protect the deceased’s privacy by removing sensitive information such as contact information and status updates. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into it in the future, while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance.

Generally, this is a graceful way to handle a painful and socially complex circumstance — something Facebook itself became familiar with early in its company history. The author of today’s blog post, Max Kelly, describes how a close friend at the company was killed just a few weeks after joining.

The “memorialized” feature, which even we hadn’t noticed until today, is not the first move Facebook has made to recognize the tragic situations that its users have found themselves in. It introduced a “widowed” relationship status feature just a couple of months ago, for people who have lost spouses.