Your life could be in danger. Well, your online life anyway. A new prank makes it easy to declare someone dead and have their page turned into a memorial. It was discovered last week when a user named Rusty Foster tried to log into his Facebook account, only to discover the social networking site thought he was deceased.
One of Foster’s friends thought it would be funny to kill him off and was able to do so using a simple form on Facebook’s website. Included with the form must be a link to an obituary or news article about the deceased. The name on the obituary must be the same as the user in question (or at least close), however none of the personal details need to match. The obituary used to lock Foster out belonged to a man 50 years older then he was, who died in 2011 in another state.
When Foster filled out a form to report the error, Facebook responded with an email that began, “We are sorry for your loss.” After a day of not being able to unlock his account Foster sent his story to Buzzfeed, who documented their own experiment with the “Memorialization Request” process.
After 27 hours and several mock-eulogies from his friends, Foster’s account was finally unlocked.
When asked about the process by ABC News, Facebook sent a statement reading, “We have designed the memorialization process to be effective for grieving families and friends, while still providing precautions to protect against either erroneous or malicious efforts to memorialize the account of someone who is not deceased.” Adding, “We also provide an appeals process for the rare instances in which accounts are mistakenly reported or inadvertently memorialized.”