What hap­pens to Your Face­book ac­count When You Die

Technowize Magazine - - Haute Money -

when a Ger­man teenager was killed by a sub­way train five years ago, her par­ents grieved – they didn’t know if the 15-year-old from Ber­lin had de­lib­er­ately en­tered the path of the on­com­ing train. Not so long ago, her mother turned to Face­book, hop­ing she might get some an­swers. Un­for­tu­nately, she was un­able to gain ac­cess to her dead daugh­ter’s Face­book ac­count. her re­quest, as her daugh­ter’s le­gal heir, turned into a long court bat­tle to un­der­stand her daugh­ter’s mys­te­ri­ous death.

A Ber­lin su­pe­rior court be­gan pro­ceed­ings to con­sider if her par­ents should be per­mit­ted to read their daugh­ter’s Face­book mes­sages af­ter her pass­ing. Although, both the par­ents had their child’s Face­book pass­word, her pro­file was put into “in memoriam” mode af­ter her death, lock­ing her pri­vate Face­book mes­sage from be­ing ac­cessed by any­one.

In the orig­i­nal 2015 rul­ing, the judge de­clared that ana­log as well as dig­i­tal pos­ses­sions of a mi­nor should be treated in the same fash­ion, in or­der to avoid a sit­u­a­tion in which “let­ters and diaries were in­her­i­ta­ble in­de­pen­dent of their con­tent, but emails and Face­book posts were not.”

Cur­rently, Face­book of­fers only three op­tions to ad­dress mat­ters

of a user’s death: a full delete of the de­ceased user’s ac­count; “Re­mem­ber­ing” to make in memoriam posts but per­ma­nently block the ac­count from any lo­gin; and “Legacy Con­tact” which is quite sim­i­lar to the ex­ecu­tor of a will, how­ever, as mi­nor can­not choose this op­tion, it would be of no help to the griev­ing mother.

None of the above men­tioned op­tions would al­low ac­cess to the in­for­ma­tion con­tained within the de­ceased daugh­ter’s Face­book ac­count. Ob­ser­va­tions con­cern­ing Face­book’s com­pli­ance with CIA, NSA and FBI re­quests for ac­cess to pri­vate data in cases of crim­i­nal be­hav­ior and acts of ter­ror­ism point to a dou­ble stan­dard with re­gard to the mother’s re­quest.

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