Check your Facebook account right now, you might be dead

Oops. Facebook made a big mistake. It is reporting that people are dead.

facebook dead orig

I was a little stunned to hear the news.

It turns out Facebook thinks I’m dead. See the image above.

I opened my Facebook page and was going to change my Facebook profile picture. At the top, there’s a rather morbid notice. It says: “We hope people who love John will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate his life.”

Hold on there, for a second. Something is not quite right.

For starters, who writes these memorials? There are a few issues, other than the obvious one that I’m still alive and well. So, the people who love me are going to go on Facebook and find out I’m deceased, apparently, and take comfort in a bunch of random thoughts and photos from people who don't love me. I guess when I finally do kick the bucket, it won’t bother me that someone dug up an old photo of me finishing a bike race or hugging one of my kids, but could they have worded it a little better? It seems like a bad newspaper memorial from the 70s, written by an intern.

Also, did I mention it's a mistake?

This is a widespread problem. Facebook, which obviously is having some trouble with their code right now (per the chatter on Twitter), is already under fire because people are blaming the immensely popular social network for allowing so much hate speech during the election cycle. It was quite the gutter grind. Almost every day, I’d see vitriol from both sides of the aisle to the point where I decided to stop reading most comments, even from friends.

Now this? I can see slip ups happening like a weird news link or maybe some fake news from a content farm (that’s a problem, too), but social networking might need to do some better quality checks. I can’t think of anything worse than telling everyone I know I’m dead.

What are the implications? They are not too severe. The notice only appeared for a while--long enough for me to write this post, anyway. And, long enough to have a discussion with my editors about it, and send a quick text to my wife telling her not to check Facebook. I jumped over to a few more profiles and saw the same notices. 

I know of at least one person who is likely incredibly offended by this because a loved one did recently die, and the Facebook page has become a memorial. I’m not sure how I feel about keeping these accounts open. My view is that it might be better to remove the account, mostly because I would not want people posting anything negative about someone who has died, which could be incredibly hurtful to family and friends who visit the profile.

As it stands, it is a glitch. Nothing serious. But it is also another hink in the Facebook armor. I am not sure if a distant friend of family member out there checked my page and is filling out a card right now and ordering flowers. If you do, please make a donation in my name.

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