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Social media advice – for families

A combined headspace and Facebook resource

Social media is creating a world that is more open and connected, enabling people to share the most important parts of their lives with families, friends and communities.

One significant event in the lives of young people is experiencing the death of a friend or peer. This can be a period of high distress, confusion and loneliness for young people and may lead to young people turning to social media for a variety of purposes. These include posting online messages and sharing memories on the deceased person's page or creating specific memorial pages to honour their memory. Whilst social media outlets like Facebook can be an effective way to share memories and create a sense of community in our grief, they can also be a source of distress when not used appropriately. The use of social media can cause some anxiety in parents, teachers and the community following the loss of a young person but it can be managed in order to assist with grieving and preserve memories.

headspace and Facebook have teamed up to offer information on how parents and the community can use and navigate Facebook following the loss of a young person.

Memorialization: Protecting a young person's account and memorializing after a death

Facebook, and all online providers, have the difficult task of responding appropriately to information requests from grieving families while protecting users' privacy. In dealing with each case, Facebook strives to achieve this balance as respectfully and compassionately as possible.

Memorialization of a page can be a helpful option for families who wish to save their loved one's Timelines as way to continue to remember them and allow others to continue to share their memories on their Timeline. The sharing of memories can help with the grief process and reduce the sense of isolation that one can feel.

Facebook's memorialization process helps ensure family and friends have continued access to the profile of their loved-ones; including access to photos, videos, and wall posts.  This process creates a special place where the deceased person's friends and family can continue to stay connected and share information.

Components of a Memorialized Account:

  • No one can log into a memorialized account and no new friends can be accepted
  • Friends can share memories on the memorialized timeline as is allowed by the privacy setting of the deceased person's account.
  • Anyone can send private messages to the deceased person
  • Content the deceased person shared (ex: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with
  • Memorialized timelines don't appear in People You May Know and other friend suggestions

Find more details about the way you can memorialize an account visit the Facebook help centre

Removing an account after a death

Another option for a family after their loved one's passing, is to have their Facebook account removed from the site. This will delete the Timeline and all associated content from Facebook so no one can view it.

For such requests, Facebook requires verification that the person seeking the removal is an immediate family member or executor. The following are examples of documentation that can demonstrate this relationship:

  • the deceased's birth certificate,
  • the deceased's death certificate,
  • proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate.

To learn more about removing an account after death, please visit the Facebook Help centre

Reporting offensive posts on memorial pages

It is common for friends and others in the community to create a tribute or memorial Facebook Page that allows people to share their memories and feelings of loss. Facebook Pages are public, which means that anyone can like, comment or share the content posted to a Page. A tribute or memorial can be a useful way for people within the community, who are not in the immediate family or friends circle to support each other at a time of loss.It is advised that these pages are regularly monitored as they are open to abuse at times which may be offensive and distressing.

Page administrators can…

  • control who can post to the Page,
  • moderate comments
  • ban someone who repeatedly posts abusive content.

More information about the tools available to moderate a Page are provided at the Facebook Help Centre

Advice for Page Administrators:

Once you have established a Page, we recommend that you regularly check the Page so that YOU can remove inappropriate comments and give consideration to closing the Page after the mourning period has ended, to minimize the burden of regularly moderating the Page.