Every user of every online social network will pass away at some point. How should the networks themselves deal with this? Hyves, a social network highly popular in the Netherlands, has chosen to address the problem with a new ‘In Memoriam’ status which can be applied when its users die.
As Dutch Daily News reports, the family of a deceased user can contact Hyves to have the status applied. Once added, “In memoriam” is added before the user’s name, turning their page into a ‘tribute’. The user is removed from the network’s chat service and notifications for friends, such as reminders of the user’s birthday, are switched off.
Hyves’ approach is similar to Facebook’s option to ‘memorialize’ accounts. As Facebook explains on its Help pages, “Memorializing an account sets the account privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. The Wall remains, so friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into the account.” Twitter, meanwhile, allows relatives to apply for an account to removed.
What’s the ‘best’ way for networks to approach such profiles? There’s no easy answer, as different family members may well have different opinions for the same account. Some may want it to be preserved as a memorial whereas others may want it removed completely. It’s a very 21st Century dilemma.