Saturday, February 2, 2013
Kristina Sherry (J.D. Candidate for 2013, Pepperdine University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, What Happens to Our Facebook Accounts When We Die?: Probate Versus Policy and the Fate of Social-Media Assets Postmortem, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. 1 (2012).
In the vast cyber-universe of millions of websites, billions of e-mails sent daily, and approximately twenty hours worth of amateur video uploaded to YouTube in the time it takes you to read this sentence —collectively sucking our psyches into digital excursions like baby pandas sneezing, small children shimmying to Beyoncé, and increasingly nonsequitur Internet memes—there are few things creepier than the dead Facebook friend.
Yet, according to projections, more than 580,000 Facebook users will die in the United States this year, leaving just as many friends and family members wondering how to best handle a loved one’s persisting postmortem digital presence. Without third-party intervention, a dead Facebooker’s “profile” page will be frozen in time like a pixilated Dorian Gray, colored by iPhone photos, “pokes,” and “LOL!”s—possibly for an eternity. For some, a dead friend’s or family member’s abandoned profile might serve as a beautiful and appropriate reminder of its creator. But for others it might trend closer to a macabre eyesore in need of termination.