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Facebook ordered to explain why it deleted the profile of a dead user without permission

Published Jun 20th, 2018 11:34PM EDT
Facebook Profile
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Facebook has found itself in a new interesting user data-related predicament. This time around, Facebook removed the profile and Facebook page of a well-known musician after he passed away, and denied to explain to his significant other why it acted so. No family member of the deceased requested the action.

A judge in the UK ordered Facebook to explain why the profile had been deleted. It’ll be interesting to see whether Facebook will be able to restore it.

Facebook acted on a request per The Times (via BBC), but declined to reveal to the family who issued the request.

The musician died of a heart attack in 2016, and his profile and page were deleted some six months later with no explanation.

So does that mean anybody can request the profile deletion of a user who just passed away?

“It’s that feeling, you lose someone you love and you try to hang onto everything, and then something happens and you can’t explain that either and nobody knows, none of the friends, none of the family,” Mirza Krupalija’s partner Azra Sabados told the BBC.

“Lots of Mirza’s profile included me and our travels, our photos, music he shared, some for me, some for friends, his profile stated that he was in a relationship with me – they could have dropped me an email to check [before deleting it],“ she added.

She is confident that it wasn’t a family member to request the removal of the profile. Sabados spent a year talking to Facebook before suing the company.

Facebook already has in place policies that explain what can happen with a user’s profile after he or she passes away. Here are the available options:

You can choose to either appoint a legacy contact to look after your memorialized account or have your account permanently deleted from Facebook.

If you don’t choose to have your account permanently deleted, it will be memorialized if we become aware of your passing.

Did Mirza Krupalija request his account to be deleted in case of death?

If not, will Facebook be ordered to restore the profile? It’s too early to tell. But should Facebook do it, this would raise additional questions about user data. After at least a year since Facebook deleted the profile, does the company still have that data?

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.