Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where The Story Begins...

Lauren Burk was a very close friend of mine. I am privileged to be able to say that. She was the kind of girl who had a bright future, and an even brighter smile. When some say "she lit up the room" it is ends up an exaggeration. In this case, it would perfectly describe her effect on others. Lauren really did brighten your day simply with her presence. She was a freshman at Auburn University and was about to finish up her first year. Tragically, she was stolen from us by a random mugger and attempted rapist. Lauren fought back and was in the process of running away before she was shot in the back. Her car was torched and Lauren ended up dying in the hospital shortly after. Her murderer was caught.

But this blog is not about her murderer, it is about the way Facebook has decided to handle her now memorialized profile. What many don't know is that when a user of Facebook dies, their profile goes into a "memorialized" state. What this means is that Facebook has "... a system for removing status updates, groups, contact information, photo comments and some other data." What we are trying to make Facebook realize is that this is censorship; plain and simple. And to make it worse, they are censoring the words of someone which might be precious to others. I know, for me personally, Lauren's last words to me were through Facebook. It hurts to have those words taken from me. I'm sure this situation is the same for many other people in mourning as well. To Facebook's credit, they were polite up until the very last email I got from them. To their discredit, they never gave me a reason for this censorship. The support team very tactfully avoided the reasons, even after repeated requests for their reasoning.

So in summary, Facebook has decided to not respect the sanctity of a loved ones last words by selectively censoring her remaining profile. I, as everyone should, am quite disappointed with Facebook's policy and, to a degree, quite angry with how they handled the situation.

I will included the entire transcript of the emails I had with Facebook's support team.


Erich said...

My condolences on your loss, and I share your outrage at your shoddy treatment by Facebook. I did not know Lauren Burk, but I joined the RIP Lauren Burk group on Facebook to offer my support and sympathies. Reading her own comments on the photos shared there was so moving and heartbreaking for me, a stranger...I can't even begin to imagine how much more meaningful it is for her friends and loved ones to read her words again.

I can understand Facebook's concern over respecting the deceased's privacy, but the items in question are things that she had already chosen to share publicly, so they should be preserved.

MollyB said...

i don't get it austin.
facebook is so lame about some stuff.
i mean.. if lauren didn't want people to see what she wrote. . . she wouldn't have written it?
so why do they think she would suddenly no longer want us to see what she had to say?
i miss her.
and i love you.

emily said...

I have no idea how I came across your blog, but I first want to say I am sorry for the loss of your friend..

I also lost a really close friend in an apartment fire at her school two and a half years ago.. She too had a facebook but instead of memorializing it, they deleted her account completely.. I e-mailed them as well and they said b/c they did not know whether the deceased would want their information out there or not they deleted accounts out of respect to them.. While I do admire their desire to respect those who've lost their lives, I know my friend intentionally created a facebook account, and the only ones who could see it were her friends. Shortly after, a guy at my school passed away.. His page is still up there, and so I am guessing they received enough complaints and changed their policy. It still makes me mad to not have that anymore.. I am glad to see they've improved to this memorialized status, and hope they will continue to make changes, eventually letting either the parents decide or just leaving it alone.. It's a huge part of grieving for some people, and the pictures, posts, memories and words are priceless..