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Update: Facebook deletes historic profiles

February 9, 2012

Remember that neat project where librarian Donnelyn Curtis made up Facebook profiles for two Nebraska students who lived 100 years ago?  (if not, see this article). Wired Campus posted an update the other day – Facebook Deletes University’s History Project.

The site’s rules enjoin users not to provide false personal information. You’re also not allowed to create an account for someone else without permission. In this case, descendants of the two individuals had given permission and no false information was posted.

On Facebook, when a living person with a profile passes away, company policy is that the information may be moved to a memorial page but the the profile must be removed. I can see where this is important with regard to recently living people, but that was obviously not the case here. In the end, Curtis did create abbreviated pages for Joe McDonald and Leona Lewis.

Facebook handled this poorly, disabling the profiles without warning. It would have been better to say, “You created a great project, but the profiles violate several of our policies. If you’d like to keep the information, please move it to a page. The profiles will be disabled in __ days.”

Unfortunately, it’s naïve to think Facebook officials gave much thought to this case. A group of unimaginative bureaucrats are probably assigned to blindly enforce policies in response to complaints. What a shame! I hope Facebook begins to try a little harder to accommodate this kind of legitimate creative work.

One Comment leave one →
  1. John Edel permalink
    February 10, 2012 9:05 am

    Yes, they could have been more sensitive, but until they come up with a solution, I would suggest using My Fake Wall (highlighted in the following blog – Free Technology for Teachers – http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2011/01/my-fake-wall-create-fake-facebook-wall.html). Maybe Facebook will buy them out after they go public!

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