Facebook Nags You To Communicate With The Dead

If you’ve logged in to Facebook lately, you may have noticed the site’s suggestions on the right-hand side telling you to write on the wall of someone you haven’t communicated with in a while. This is merely annoying for most of us, but sort of a punch in the gut when the person you’re being told to get back in touch with is dead.

Margo wrote to us about her own experience:

Facebook’s new “stay connected” sidebar will show you ANYONE in your friend list. Including dead people. I’ve been asked twice this week to improve the Facebook existence of someone who passed away this summer, despite emailing them several times to alert them of this person’s untimely demise.

You can set a deceased Facebook user’s page to memorial mode, but this requires action on the part of someone close to that person. Not all dead Facebook users’ pages are memorialized, and it’s not clear that being in memorial mode keeps the late Facebook user’s name out of your “Reconnect” suggestions. Putting a dead person’s profile in memorial mode does remove them from all suggestions.

Of course, the “reconnect” feature doesn’t just encourage us to interact with the dead—it also suggests that we stay in touch with people we might be in contact with every day. Or who we don’t want to be in contact with at all.

Have you had any incredibly awkward “Reconnect” suggestions? Does anyone actually like this feature?

Memories of Friends Departed Endure on Facebook [Facebook Blog]
Contact form: Deceased [Facebook]

Facebook Memorializes Dead With New Reconnect Feature [ChannelWeb]

Comments

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  1. lehrdude says:

    They also recommended that I become friends with my mother…

    …but only because we both attended the same high school.

  2. PsiCop says:

    There are lots of things about Facebook that are hard to understand. I can only assume that the people who run it, simply have not thought out the repercussions of things they do.

    For instance, I’m having trouble figuring out what the difference is between “Live Feed” and “News Feed,” and how they both relate to “Status Update.” Different things come up depending on which one I click, but the rhyme and reason for what’s displayed and what isn’t, is not apparent. Now, somewhere inside the bowels of Facebook, this distinction IS, no doubt, meaningful. And to users who are obsessed with Facebook and who delve into its own internal jargon, it might also be meaningful. But to the casual user, the phrases “Live Feed” and “News Feed” are not intuitive, and therefore aren’t very useful.

    • AngryK9 says:

      @PsiCop: Not much difference. They both are annoying as hell after the changes.

    • calquist says:

      @PsiCop: I can’t stand the people who complain about Facebook changes and join groups petitioning it. Facebook needs to upgrade and change. If it doesn’t you are going to get bored and dump it. Some things should be petitioned (like the TOS), but News Feed vs. Live Feed… you won’t even remember the change in a couple weeks. Plus these changes are for the most part good. Anyone have Facebook longer than a year? I signed up back in 2004 and seeing it now versus then.. the changes are definitely for the better.

  3. katstermonster says:

    I’ve been instructed at least 3 times now to “poke” my closest friend’s fiancée. I don’t think she’d appreciate that much.

  4. geekgrrl77 says:

    I sent a screenshot of this new “feature” to a friend of mine b/c Facebook recommended that I “help her find more friends.”

    LOL

  5. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    I laugh every time it tells me that “So-and-so only has three friends! Suggest friends for them.”

    But no, I don’t like it.

  6. SadSam says:

    I stay off FB and therefore don’t have any of these problems, I stay in touch with my real friends through telephone, e-mail, letters and actual in person visits. Yes most of these people are also on FB and they keep trying to get me to get on and I keep ignoring them so I’m afraid that eventually the fact that we are not FB friends will slowly erode my actual friendship with them.

    • Fett101 says:

      @SadSam: You do realize that joining Facebook does not mean you are restricted to communicating only via Facebook, right?

    • ChemicallyInert says:

      @SadSam: Dude, just do what I do. Open an account, use it for two weeks, and then never visit it again. No one will care or notice if you keep seeing them IRL.

    • eyezick says:

      @SadSam: I organically grow my own Facebooks in my backyard garden using only compost created from my adopted infant’s Peekaru leftovers. It takes a little extra time, but at least I know I’m not supporting corporate Facebooks.

      • sophistiKate says:

        @eyezick: I comparison shop at all 56 locally-owned businesses that sell Facebook in my state so I know I’m getting the best deal. Then (after purchasing my Facebook with a credit card so I can make a chargeback if it’s defective, of course), I respond to every one of my friends’ status updates in person.

    • Warble says:

      @SadSam: Woah, it’s like you’re living in the future! (only half kidding.)

  7. diasdiem says:

    Can you hear me spirits? Poke once for yes, twice for no.

  8. TWinter says:

    I’m in the same boat as Margo. I have a friend who passed away in July and she keeps popping up in the reconnect thing. I know it’s just a computer picking people I haven’t interacted with recently, but it is kind of weird when it pops up.

    • formergr says:

      @TWinter: I think there is usually a “Hide” or “x” in the upper right hand corner of the reconnect suggestion. If you click that, then that particular friend shouldn’t be suggested again.

      If you don’t see either of these, hover your mouse arrow over the upper right area of the suggestion, and it should appear.

  9. Colonel Jack O'Neill says:

    I hate Facebook, and all those damn social networking sites.
    And then they put a social network(twitter) inside a social network(facebook), which does not make any sense.
    And now everyone wants to integrate some kind of social network into their site.

    These people who are your “so called” on these sites, 99% of them ain’t really your friends. Would they really help you out if you need help. These sites should change the friends to acquaintances, cause that’s really what they are.

    All social networking sites need to DIE.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      @Colonel Jack O’Neill: Lonely much? Of the 100 + friends I have limited myself too, they span the 3 states I went to school in and several others, were close then and 80% of them would help if I asked for their help. The style of networking does not dictate the quality of your friends. You do.

      Not everyone is in a Tila Tequila style “how many friends can I make on [insert social networking application]?” contest. I don’t know many people who friend everyone suggested to them on facebook. I certainly don’t.

  10. fryfrog says:

    In Facebook’s defense, how are they supposed to know that your friend is deceased? They have a mechanism in place, mentioned above at [www.facebook.com] to and even recently published a story on it at [blog.facebook.com]

  11. LoveyH says:

    Yeah, Ive been prompted to “reconnect” with my grandma twice now. She died October 10th, so it hasn’t been 30 days yet. It still makes me incredibly sad, though.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @LoveyH: sorry for your loss, but i’m just kind of impressed that your grandma was that internet savvy. [even though i’m anti-facebook] she sounds like she was really cool

  12. oneandone says:

    I haven’t logged into facebook in a while (couple of weeks?) and have started getting messages from friends in a similar situation, since facebook has suggested they ‘get back in touch’ with me. Little does it know that we talk on the phone, send emails, and exchange photos outside of facebook. Shocking.

    Is it prompting people to write on each others’ walls because it realizes there’s a massive demographic that uses it just like a self-updating phone book? At least I hope there is – I can’t be the only one who only logs in when I need to look up a friend’s new cellphone number, or check how to spell their spouse’s name.

  13. piratealice says:

    Isn’t there a setting you can adjust so that you don’t show up on that suggestions thing? I thought there was, but now I can’t find anything about it. I really don’t want Facebook telling random people to become my friend especially after I’ve removed myself from searches, etc.

  14. andi_bird says:

    Last week I noticed Facebook suggested I “stay connected” with my husband. The photo was of the two of us. How thoughtful / funny / creepy.

  15. maines19 says:

    The Facebook iPhone app only gives you Newsfeed as an option (no live feed), which is irritating because Live Feed is what I really want.

  16. sknewhouse says:

    My father has been a friend suggestion for months. We have different last names, live in different cities, and have no mutual friends. He’s not in my email address book. I have no idea how it knows.

    Facebook also wanted me to “reconnect” with my boyfriend. Pretty sure I talk to him every day.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      @sknewhouse: Do you have any friends that are friends with your Dad? If you have enough mutual contacts, they will eventually end up suggesting those people.

  17. luftmenschPhil says:

    I use Facebook mainly for scrabble – haven’t had any dead opponents…yet.

  18. yume_ryuu says:

    Yeah I have one dead friend on my facebook friends list and I just ignore it when it pops up. People still post on this person’s wall, so what can you do?

    I get a problem with facebook asking me to reply to comments I never commented on, and so on.

  19. bikeoid says:

    Memorializing the dead can get out of hand: [thulbourn.com]

  20. flugennock says:

    Facebook? What?

    Sorry, I prefer to use the grownups’ Internet.

  21. Drivebyluna says:

    Facebook also asked me to add myself:

    [i36.tinypic.com]

  22. peepingdan says:

    Facebook wanted me to get back in touch with my ex best friend, who I’ve had so much unecessary drama with that I can’t even bear to see his face. I rarely check my facebook, and I’m still “friends” with him, and so there he was, looking back at me from the right of the page. It gave me a shiver.

  23. lesbiansayswhat says:

    I’ve noticed this is only, for me anyway, for friends of mine who don’t use Facebook all that much..which makes me think they only do this to get you to bother your friends so that they log in more.

  24. VagrantRadio says:

    Explain to me exactly how code and script or software programmers are supposed to know that someone is dead especially if the user’s profile hasn’t been put into “Memorial Mode”?

    Yeah, we get it. You’re in the picture/in the persons house/standing next to them when Facebook wants you to re-connect. Seriously, it’s just a website not an interstellar being capable of seeing everything you are doing.

  25. Flynn says:

    Somewhat related, Target won’t stop giving me coupons reminding me to buy cat food and litter, despite the fact that a) it’s been well over a year since I’ve bought anything…because, b) my cat died.

    I know it’s just in their system because I bought things there before. As a programmer, I know it wouldn’t be that hard to notice that if pet products have a regular history and then stop being bought, it might be safe to just not give coupons for that. Of course, that would mean a store would be worried more about you than prodding you to bring your pet business back. Just a thought.

  26. k8supergrover says:

    I got “I lost 14 lbs with acai berries” spammed by a dead friend’s facebook account. It was super creepy.

  27. Meathamper says:

    Take that, Ghost Whisperer.

  28. venomroses says:

    Last month, I finally got an ex-boyfriend “friend suggested” to me.

    Someone else posted the facebook help thing that says pressing the X on the suggestion means they don’t appear again? That doesn’t work me. I would get the same suggestion 3 times in a week, despite pressing the X.

  29. strathmeyer says:

    People too stupid to use Facebook should go back to Myspace.

  30. PsiCop says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Re: “News Feed is highlights.”

    This only leads to another question: What’s the definition of a “highlight,” as opposed to something else?

    This is exactly the problem I’m describing: Facebook loves to define things on its own without any kind of intuitive reference.

  31. coren says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Unfortunately the highlights seem to have no rhyme or reason ins election or order (that is, out of chronological order)

  32. lmarconi says:

    @geekgrrl77: I agree. I like Live feed and I don’t like News feed. For me, Live Feed is like Twitter except useful.

  33. Michael Bauser says:

    @PsiCop: Highlights is a filter based on your previous Facebook activity. It’s skewed towards the people the algorithm thinks are your best friends, based on how much you look at their pages, comment on their activity, etc. If those people aren’t doing anything on Facebook recently, the page isn’t going to update much.

    My highlights feed, by the way? Mostly other men’s wives. (Old school friends.) Good thing that’s not open to misinterpretation, right?

  34. PsiCop says:

    @Michael Bauser: In other words, Facebook is deciding for itself what I want to see.

    Woops. That’s a non-starter. I prefer to see what I decide to see. Not what Facebook assumes I want to see. If I wanted to see what FB assumes I wanted to see, I’d click on a link that says, “Feed based on our baseless assumptions about you.”

    I much prefer a real-time chronological-order feed, which shows me what I expect to see based on objective criteria.

  35. SybilDisobedience says:

    @PsiCop: If you click “more” on the left side beneath the “Status Update” and other bars, all available bars including news feed should appear. Grab and drag “News Feed” to the top of the list and it should load automatically every time you come to the site.

  36. Michael Bauser says:

    @PsiCop: I selected “Live Feed,” and it stays selected when I leave Facebook & come back, so I don’t know what your issue is there. Maybe your browser is having cookie issues?

    (I prefer the Live Feed, too. The old Live Feed is one of the things I complained about losing the last time Facebook revised the home page.)

  37. nakkypoo says:

    @gStein_has joined the star bandwagon: It’s not like Facebook notifies someone when you defriend them. Noticing one missing out of several hundred is impossible for most. It doesn’t mean they aren’t “real friends” it just means they aren’t on Facebook studying their friends list daily.

    Incidentally, this not notifying you when someone defriends you is a thing that bugged me about Facebook, so I wrote an app that does exactly that. Not going to link to it here, but it does exist.

  38. PsiCop says:

    @SybilDisobedience: But I don’t want to see “News Feed.” I want to see “Live Feed.” This is not selectable.

  39. PsiCop says:

    @Michael Bauser: It stays with “Live Feed” for a short time but always reverts to “News Feed” within a couple of hours. I suspect that’s the time a session ID takes to time out. So it’s not cookies.

  40. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    @Michael Bauser: That.. is scary.

    Now I really wish people would stop putting my email into their “invite to Facebook” thingies.

  41. Holden Caufield says I'm a phonie says:

    @Ayarkay: You could have wrote “At your house now… the food is awesome!”