Facebook 'heartless' says mum

Facebook ‘heartless’, says grieving mum…

Grieving mum Louise Palmer’s story appears in the SUNDAY MIRROR newspaper…Louise Palmer - mum brands Facebook heartless

When Louise’s daughter, Becky, 19, died from a brain tumour, she was devastated. But she gained comfort from logging into Becky’s Facebook page and reading her old messages.

However, four weeks ago she went to log in as usual only to be denied access. Instead a strange message came up saying the account had been ‘memorialised’.

Louise was incredibly upset and when she contacted Facebook they emailed back to say she was denied access due to ‘privacy reasons.’

Louise began logging into her daughter’s account after she was diagnosed with the brain tumour in 2010. Towards the end of her life Becky lost her speech and was unable to read or write more than a few sentences.

Louise used to read messages from friends from Becky’s account to her. And when her daughter died, she found great comfort in reading it. She says: “I could hear her voice coming through her account and remember how bubbly she was.”

Of Facebook’s policy, Louise said: “I can’t believe Facebook can be so heartless and inconsiderate. The loss of my only daughter has been heartbreaking. But at least in my darkest hours I could login to her Facebook account and read her messages remembering her as the vibrant girl she used to be.

‘Becky had no privacy from me – we shared absolutely everything. Towards the end of her life she couldn’t write or read more than a few sentences so I used to log in for her and read out to her what her friends were up to. And I fail to see how anyone can invade the privacy of a dead person.’

Louise adds the change means the page is now only available to see if people were originally listed as a friend – yet as people can still write on her wall, spam is regularly left. However, as she cannot login, she is unable to remove it.

Facebook 'heartless' says mum
Mum Louise with daughter Becky

‘I don’t want to be allowed to post on the page,’ she says, ‘but not being able to login also means her page looks like an uncared for grave with weeds growing on it.’

A campaign group has now been set up to reinstate the page, with other grieving parents worried the same fate is about to befall them. A number of other desperate parents who’ve had the same thing happen have also joined the group, which currently stands at around 1500 parents.

* According to Facebook when a user dies all accounts are ‘memorialized’ to protect the person’s privacy. Although friends and family can still write on the Wall, no-one can log in. The alternative is to delete the account, which can only be done if next of kin ask for it and then proof is needed, such as a death certificate.

Louise says: “I feel desperate to get this story out there. Being denied access to Becky’s page has been heartbreaking. I don’t want to post anything but I do want to be able to read all those old conversations and messages. All that has been lost to me now and it’s just compounded my feelings of loss and grief.”

In order to gain the highest amount of press coverage Louise’s story was also placed on the DAILY MAIL WEBSITE and it also appeared in Louise’s local newspaper. In addition, Louise did interviews for her local BBC Radio and local independent TV station.

Louise said: “Due to all this publicity, I do feel I have done my very best to raise this issue. In addition Alison did some research and found a number of people in the States who were also upset after their loved one’s Facebook accounts were memorialized. I have been in contact with them, and it has been very therapeutic to know that others feel exactly the same as I do.”

Have you had any experience of this with Facebook? What do you think should be done with a person’s Facebook profile when they die? Let us know your thoughts below…

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Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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