Up until now, Facebook has allowed only friends and family members of deceased Facebook users to view the individual’s profile. However, the site will now respect the privacy settings of deceased users and leave them “as-is” after their death.
“This will allow people to see memorialized profiles in a manner consistent with the deceased person’s expectations of privacy,” Facebook said in its statement. “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.”
Facebook profiles can also be taken down at the request of a deceased user’s family, though the site says that they still will not provide log-in information for memorialized accounts.
The privacy rights of dead Facebook users have been a hot-button issue for years, with some families fighting for access to profiles on the site. That was the case earlier this month when John Berlin, the father of a deceased 21-year-old man, posted a YouTube clip begging Facebook to allow him to view the “Look Back” video of his son. The video gained 700,000 views in its first 24 hours online, and was at least partially responsible for Facebook softening its stance on the issue.
“We had not initially made the videos for memorialized accounts, but John’s request touched the hearts of everyone who heard it, including ours,” Facebook said. “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.”