As members of Facebook’s Community Operations team, we talk to people who use Facebook every day and we’re committed to making their experience better. Some of the people who reach out to us are grieving the death of a friend or family member, and they usually ask for their loved one’s timeline to be memorialized.
Over the past several months, we’ve been thinking about and working on better ways for people to remember loved ones. As we continue to think through each aspect of memorialization, we ask ourselves questions that have no easy answers: How might people feel? Are we honoring the wishes and legacy of the person who passed away? Are we serving people who are grieving the loss of a loved one as best we can?
Based on conversations inspired by these questions, we’ve decided to make an important change to how we preserve legacies on Facebook. Up to now, when a person’s account was memorialized, we restricted its visibility to friends-only. This meant that people could no longer see the account or any of its content unless they were Facebook friends with the person who passed away. Starting today, we will maintain the visibility of a person’s content as-is. This will allow people to see memorialized profiles in a manner consistent with the deceased person’s expectations of privacy. We are respecting the choices a person made in life while giving their extended community of family and friends ongoing visibility to the same content they could always see.
Today, we’re also glad to begin offering a way for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one to see that person’s “Look Back” video. In recognition of our ten-year anniversary, a group of our engineers created personal movies for people using some of the posts and photos they had shared over the years. For one man in Missouri, the Look Back video he was most desperate to watch was one that had not yet been made. John Berlin reached out to ask if it was possible for Facebook to create a video for his son, Jesse, who passed away in 2012. We had not initially made the videos for memorialized accounts, but John’s request touched the hearts of everyone who heard it, including ours.
Since then, many others have asked us to share the Look Back videos of their loved ones, too, and we’re now glad to be able to fulfill those requests (video requests can be made here).
Changes like this are part of a larger, ongoing effort to help people when they face difficult challenges like bereavement on Facebook. We will have more to share in the coming months as we continue to think through how best to help people decide how they want to be remembered and what they want to leave behind for loved ones.