Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Conversation

It starts with a help request inside of Facebook. The conversation goes back and forth between the support team and myself.

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-----Original Message to Facebook-----
From: Austin Lawrence (*******@gmail.com)
To: info@facebook.com
Subject: PHOTOS: Photo comments

User id: 112047****
Description of problem: About a month ago, one of my close friends was murdered. Her profile is still active and we and her family wish to keep it that way. After she died, one photo that she frequently commented on, "http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30134816&l=332d0&id=1120471415"
was changed. For some reason, only I (the creator of the photo) can see her comments that she had previously left. We as a group absolutely need to be ables to see what she has written. There is no reason that her comments should be hidden, and frankly, her friends and family are very mad about the way facebook is treating this. I'm not sure if all of her comments are hidden, but this needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Thank you.


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Hi Austin,

We are very sorry to hear about your loss. Please respond with the full name and networks of the user in question and provide the URL to the group or its full name. Once we receive additional information, we will investigate further.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Emma
User Operations
Facebook
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Hello Emma,

All of Lauren's friends greatly appreciate your help in fixing this issue and your promptness in reply. Here is her info.

Lauren Burk
ID - 1120470552

Networks
George Walton High School '07
Auburn '11
Atlanta, GA

The photo and comments in question
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30134816&id=1120471415
(it may pertain to more of her photos, this is the main one we would like fixed)

Thank You for helping us to see her words again. We really appreciate it.

-austin

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Hi Austin,

Thank you for providing the URL to the photo. Unfortunately, however, when an account is memorialized, the memorialized user's comments on photos are only visible to the user who owns the photo. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this poses. Let us know if you have further questions or concerns.

Thanks,

Emma
User Operations
Facebook

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Emma,

Wait, what?! "...memorialized user's comments on photos are only visible to the user who owns the photo." Please explain what possible purpose this could serve. The people closest to Lauren are directly requesting that her comments be made public again. The fact that Facebook would deny this is disrespectful of not only her, but to us as well. Her comments are part of her legacy, and many people are taking great offense that Facebook has decided to censor that. Her words are precious to us. If you can't help me resolve this issue, then I'm going to have to get in contact with a higher manager. I'm going to need either an email address or phone number of somebody else that I can talk to. I understand that you may be bound by policy, but this is just not right. Thank you for helping us.

-austin

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Hi Austin,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. We apologize for any frustration this memorial process may have caused for you. Please note that this policy is meant to honor and respect the privacy of deceased users. Because we cannot know what information people would like to have displayed publicly on Facebook posthumously, we have a system for removing status updates, groups, contact information, photo comments and some other data. We have carefully crafted this system to balance the needs of friends and families without exploiting the memory of the deceased. Unfortunately, we cannot restore this information even on a temporary basis and I apologize again for any inconvenience this may cause. I have escalated your concerns to the Legal team and to the User Operations team for further consideration and we appreciate your feedback on the issue. Be sure to let us know if you need anything else.

Thanks,

Zack
User Operations
Facebook

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Hello Zack,

I really appreciate you trying to help out in this matter and I also thank you for passing this onto your Legal and User Operations team. If it is allowed, I would like to be able to be able to get in contact with a representative from those departments to explain the situation directly to them. I understand if that is against policy, but as you may imagine, this is a very delicate issue for all parties involved. Something that you must understand is, for some of us, her last words to us were through Facebook. Her words are precious to us, and some feel harmed that those words were censored. I only want to present our case directly to those involved in policy making process over at the Facebook team. Again, thank you for helping us out.

-austin

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Hi Austin,

Thanks again for the response. We have noted this feedback and will consider this example as we move forward. Unfortunately, at this time the material cannot be restored. If you need any further assistance, be sure to let us know.

Thanks,

Zack
User Operations
Facebook

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Hello Zach,

Ok, so I appreciate that you have elevated the report of this situation, but I never got an answer as to why some of her information was removed. You may say that it is policy for a memorialize page to be censored, but for what purpose? It is hurtful to us that her last words to some of her friends were removed by none of our consent. Censorship is defined as, "...the removal or withholding of information from the public by a controlling group or body." I'm sure that you would agree that this applies to our situation. I can agree that some censorship is required, but in this situation, it is not. This ongoing issue is becoming very offensive to not only myself, but to many other Facebook users as well. From our perspective, it seems that Facebook chooses not to respect the memory of the dead.
I know that you are trying to close this issue with me, but I won't just leave it at, "
We have noted this feedback and will consider this example as we move forward." Your email brings up another point. When you said, "...the material cannot be restored..." is it can not, or will not? There are differences between them.
So far, both I and the Facebook Support Team have been very respectful and understanding of each others situations. But I need to be able to get in contact with the Facebook policy makers. It seems that they are the only ones who can help me. I will not let this matter turn into a footnote consideration which will, in all likeliness, be completely rebuffed. I'm trying to be calm and understanding, but as you may imagine, my frustration is building. The only thing for you to do to satisfy me is if I can be in contact with your Policy Making team to be able to discuss the issue directly. Please appeal this situation with a higher manager to see if you we can work out this extenuating circumstance. Thank you for your help.

-austin

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Hi Austin,

Thanks again for the response. Please note that I, as an individual, did assist with the creation of this policy and process. Facebook is in a difficult position when it comes to deceased users; we are the caretakers and shepherds of content for people who have passed away and no longer can voice their opinions. And while current users may have strong arguments about what should or should not be displayed, ultimately it is we at Facebook who control this content.

We have heard loud and clear your insistence that these photo comments should be left in the public domain. Unfortunately, at this time it is not technically possible to restore the material and in fact, myself and other individuals who developed the memorialization process beside me, simply do not agree with your argument. So please know that we have taken your feelings into consideration, but no changes will be made to our policy at this time. Please consider this the end of our correspondence.

Thanks,

Zack
User Operations
Facebook

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And that is where Facebook slammed the door in our faces. By them saying "
...noted this feedback and will consider this example as we move forward" ended up being total B.S by Zack having said "...simply do not agree with your argument." So in the end, Facebook decides not to respect a dead woman's last words to her friends and gives no reason why.

1 comment:

roxygurl9435 said...

Lauren put those words onto facebook, they should be left alone. If facebook does anything at all it should just make her profile private so only her friends can view it, not all of the other people in the networks. this way it will be the friends that lauren herself added and knew would be looking at her stuff. i cant believe the people at facebook honestly think they are correct. it makes me so angry, i almost want to delete mine, they are control freaks who want money, and i suppose her status updates, photo comments, etc., was taking up their precious space. i am completely distraught by this, and i am so sorry that lauren's friends and family have to deal with this.

i personally did not know lauren, but i go to auburn university, and we had mutual friends. i know i have no place in this to fuss at facebook, but seriously, they are terribly mistaken and wrong.

Thanks.

Kristin