You Can “Kill” Your Facebook Friends
Bernadette Weatherly

Oh, poor Facebook…

2013 just isn’t cutting a break to the world’s most popular social networking site. Towards the end of last year, Randi, sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, posted a photo that she thought was shared privately to her Facebook account. Callie Schweitzer, a marketing director at Vox Media, saw the picture in her Facebook feed, and thinking it was a public photo, reshared it on Twitter as first pointed out by Buzzfeed.

New Year’s Messages

Then Facebook was able to avoid what could have been an embarrassing privacy ordeal with a messaging feature it built for New Year’s Day, the LA Times reported. The new feature allowed users to pre-write messages for their friends that were sent out as soon as 2013 arrived at the stroke of midnight—but the messages weren’t private. The developers’ team at Facebook was barely able to reverse the problem thanks to a heads up from the blogger that caught the mishap.

Facebook Memorializing Prank

It’s now been discovered that it’s pretty easy to declare a friend dead on Facebook by “memorializing” his or her account to make it appear they’ve passed on to the next non-digital life. According to Buzzfeed, you have the ability to send a request to Facebook stating that someone you know has died and offer very little evidence before they transform that person’s account from normal status to a “memorial.”

Now, we don’t recommend you do this—at all. Obvious panicking of family and friends aside, it’s not easy to notify Facebook that it was all a mistake and bring yourself back from the dead, but the loophole does expose a severe oversight in the way Facebook manages this process.

How much evidence do you need? In the case that Buzzfeed reported, all the prankster had to find was an online obituary of someone who shared the same name—it wasn’t even spelled the same way. But despite that the elderly man in the obituary was easily 50 years older than the gentleman with the Facebook account, Facebook decided that it was enough and moved its profile into memorial status anyway.

If you do fall victim to this prank, the process to get your account back to normal status isn’t easy. First, you need to fill out a form stating what’s wrong with your account and what corrective action you need to be taken. They’ll send you a confirmation and from there it’s just a waiting game. The user didn’t get his account back for six days, at which point Facebook handed it back with a “my bad.”

Considering how easy it is to deceive someone, makes us rethink what we know about identity theft facts and what’s available online for others to tamper with. Facebook’s response to this specific victim was particularly vague, but we’d like to think they’re doing something behind the doors to refine this process.

Until then, let’s just hope that you have decent friends.

A stage mom, Bernadette Weatherly started out as a dancer and singer for “American Bandstand” on TV. She is happy to support the talents of her dancing angels, Marcie and Marianne, and shares tips and reviews on the latest trends in film, music and TV.