LaDona Wilson lost her son in a motorcycle crash two months ago.
When she came out of the early waves of grief, she realized there was a place that held the treasured story of his 25 years on earth – Facebook.
But the Port Angeles mother was surprised to find that, even though she had her son’s password, she couldn’t get on his Facebook account.
Even more disturbing she couldn’t have the photos and text from his Facebook page converted into a hardcopy album, a memento of her son’s life that she hoped to share with friends and family.
She said The Social Book, a manufacturer of such memorial albums, told her that was son’s Facebook page was off-limits to the company because Facebook had “memorialized” his account after his death.
Wilson’s case highlights a touchy subject that Facebook has been navigating as it becomes the official record of people’s lives through photos, messages, and important or mundane events in people’s daily lives.
In an email to KING 5, Facebook spokesperson Jodi Seth said the company memorializes, or freezes, Facebook pages when it is notified of an accountholder’s death because “we want to make it possible for their Facebook page to serve as a platform for family and friends to celebrate their life while continuing to respect the deceased user’s preferences/settings and by not allowing anyone else to speak for that person.”
“They said they don’t unblock or unfreeze” memorialized accounts, Wilson said of her conversations with Facebook.
She said the company asked her to send her son’s birth and death certificates, but still refused to change the account.
She says the company also wouldn’t say who asked to have the account memorialized.
Facebook’s webpage appears to allow anyone to request a memorial page as long as they can provide proof, like an obituary, of the accountholder’s death.
Just last month, Facebook announced that it was changing its policy that automatically altered the privacy settings of memorialized accounts.
Previously, the company changed all memorial pages so that they could be viewed by Facebook friends only.
Now, the company does not alter those settings so that the page can be viewed according to the deceased’s wishes.