By Lea Shores
Staff reporter

When someone passes away, loved ones are left to finish their business on Earth. Debts must be settled and possessions distributed. But what happens to the more intangible things? What happens to their e-mail account? And, what happens to their Facebook profile?

According to an article on, this year an estimated 480,000 Facebook users in the United States and 1.78 million users worldwide will pass away. Out of over 500 million reported users, this doesn’t seem like a big number. But, many people— including some on this campus—will at some point this year have a friend on their page die.

Until you lose a friend or family member, you may not consider just how many Facebook profiles may belong to someone who is no longer alive. Many loved ones may not know what to do with the deceased’s account and just let it sit. After 30 days, it becomes an “inactive” profile.

Family members can contact Facebook and request that the profile be removed or they can request the page be memorialized.

When family members request that a Facebook profile becomes a memorial, the page then becomes invisible to anyone who was not a confirmed friend and the profile will not come up on a search.

Everything else about the profile remains the same. Friends and family can still write on the wall and view the user’s pictures.

Some may argue that it is best to just have the profile removed from Facebook and try to move on with life.  It is hard enough going through day to day life after losing someone. Why would you want to be confronted with their photo on your friends list whenever you log in?

Right after someone dies of course it is going to be a struggle to see reminders of them but on the one-year anniversary of their death or on their birthday you are still going to be thinking of them. Memorializing someone’s profile is a great way for loved ones to reach out to each other in grief and celebrate the life of that person.

Memorializing a Facebook profile isn’t for the person who is gone, it’s for the people who are still alive. Connecting with others who share your loss can help everyone to carry on with life.

However, for those who choose to remove a loved one’s profile, it’s OK. Deleting their online is presence is not deleting them from your memory. Facebook is a central part of many lives but if someone is no longer alive and you’re more comfortable deactivating the account, you won’t be judged.

Lea Shores is a senior majoring in English. You may e-mail her at

Edited by Paige Carswell