Facebook reviews family memorials after dad's plea

John Berlin John Berlin posted his emotional plea to Facebook on YouTube

Related Stories

A father's plea to watch a video based on his dead son's Facebook page has provoked the network to look again at how families can remember loved ones.

Facebook recently launched a Look Back feature that creates a video generated by popular moments on a person's profile.

John Berlin posted a YouTube clip asking to see a Look Back video for his son Jesse, who died in 2012 aged 22.

After the plea gained support, Facebook told Mr Berlin a video would be made.

Mr Berlin, who is from Missouri in the US, was unable to create the video himself as he did not have access to his son's profile.

Facebook said it would create one on his behalf using content Jesse had posted publicly.

"It worked I was just contacted by FB by phone and they're going to make a vid just for us," John Berlin wrote in a status update.

"They also said they're going to look at how they can better help families who have lost loved ones."

Following the incident, Facebook has said it is working on implementing further ways to deal with death on the network.

"This experience reinforced to us that there's more Facebook can do to help people celebrate and commemorate the lives of people they have lost," a spokeswoman told the BBC via email.

"We'll have more to share in the coming weeks and months."

'Shot in the dark'

Mr Berlin posted a video to YouTube "calling out to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook".

"You've been putting out these one-minute movies that everyone has been sharing," he said. "I think they're great."

Facebook's look back screenshot The Look Back videos show key moments from a person's time on Facebook

He went on to explain his son's death, and how he could not access his profile.

"All we want to do is see his movie. I know it's a shot in the dark but I don't care."

The clip was posted to link-sharing website Reddit where it gained a lot of support. Mr Berlin posted his son's obituary to allay concerns the clip may have been a hoax.

Local radio station Pix11 stepped in to put Mr Berlin in contact with Facebook.

Protected profiles

Facebook already offers a "memorialising" process for profiles of deceased users.

The service was introduced in 2009 after one of the social network's engineers lost a loved one and felt the existing measures were not sufficient.

Under the current set-up, family members can use the site's help centre to send links from newspapers or other sources confirming the news that someone has died.

Facebook told the BBC such processes were in place to ensure someone did not maliciously try to shut an account - and that there was an appeal process in place for the rare occasions when mistakes were made.

Memorialising means a user who has died will no longer appear alongside advertising, or in contextual messages - and friends will not be reminded of a person's birthday.

Facebook does not hand over full access to a person's account due to privacy concerns.

In the past, Facebook has come under criticism for displaying prompts to talk to people who were no longer alive.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC


More on This Story

Related Stories



This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 118.


    Heavily moderated textual commentary like this HYS is NOT social media.

    You might want to look up what "social media" actually means before making such inane comments.

    BTW, I have been to many VOIP eulogies where people have died unexpectedly, it was very cathartic. But people move on.

    These Farcebook pages exist forever - and that's NOT good to get over the denial stage of death.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    The people who lambast Facebook most likely haven't the foggiest notion of how it works and are therefore scared of it. My husband was one of those until I showed him what was what and now he's using it. Living abroad & away from family it's an invaluable way of keeping in touch. It doesn't have to be public if you don't want it to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    For many, Facebook is an important part of there social world, it has become a contemporary journal of peoples lives, sharing their thoughts, dreams, experiences and key life events.

    "I can think of no better way for friends and families of 'loved ones lost' to celebrate and reflect on those precious memories".

    "I cannot stress enough the importance of celebrating life when dealing with death"

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    111.The Alf Garnett Experience
    I disagree, maybe locking such accounts so no further comments can be made on their page would work better

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Both parties in agreement. Seems logical. Where's the story BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Since the Council of Elvira in 305 when celibacy was introduced, the Catholic church has always had a problem with sexual perversion.
    e.g. Gombert and Merula in the 16th/17th centuries were sexual abusers (both has their crimes overlooked because of music). Voltaire was child abused by Jesuits.
    Until the Catholics give up celibacy they will always have this problem whatever they say about it

  • Comment number 112.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Farcebook should IMMEDIATELY close down the pages they have of people who have died, in any circumstances.

    And that would be the end of the matter.

    Retaining pages of pictures & comments of the recently dead only opens it up to abuse, and ultimately stops the families involved from getting over the denial phase of grieving.


  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    I support this poor grieving father's wish to see his son, my only hope is that the sick trolls that stalk Facebook, will show mercy and not post sick words to upset Mr Berlin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Is this really news? A headline article?

    He got what he wanted, stop giving Facebook free publicity please BBC (not that they need it), that's not what I pay my license fee for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    I think it is brilliant
    Unfortunately the internet now preserves peoples lives long after they are gone in the early days I used to find it chilling I could still see profiles of people I knew that had died...But now that we are all online it is a great way to remember someone with something tangible better than any photo as far as I am concerned.
    Losing a child is devastating I hope this helps!

  • Comment number 107.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    How about you don't use farcebook or the internet in general to eulogise your dead family members...

    By making these pages you open yourself up to pathetic, emotionless & malevolent trolls seeking hurt your emotions for the "LOLS".

    Your grief is personal, keep it that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    It's a sad day when considerations about a cash generating Software Application start to have significance when someone dies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Glad FB are doing this hope it eases the grief of his death, but I think there are other more worthy discussions that should be open to HYS

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Tarquin said (#10): "... internet content should be passed on to the next of kin in the same way [as] the rest of their estate ... What's the problem with that?"

    The deceased may have posted content with privacy restrictions that blocked the N.o.K. If the deceased added the N.o.K. as a friend, the content is accessible anyway. If not, it is private info. FB wants to (and should) respect that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I am surprised by all the FB haters. Yes some people are sad and don't have real friends but for many people, Facebook makes it easy to organise real events with friends to get together in the real world. It also makes it easy to share photos with after the event. One of my FB friends I haven't seen for real in over 13 years but he posts a lot of interesting political articles so I stay connected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Stealth war on privacy

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I think generally the Internet is full of similar provocations, showing up some private and definitely to drastic parts of life to show them in that wide net like Facebook or Tweeter.

  • Comment number 99.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


Page 7 of 12


More Technology stories


Features & Analysis

BBC Future

(US Navy)

The world’s noisiest spy plane

The Soviet giant that still soldiers on


  • A robot holding a table legClick Watch

    The robots who build flat-pack furniture - teaching machines to work collaboratively

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.