For your consideration (Facebook open letter)

Dear Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook (and all other social media platforms),

We have a problem here.  Some people were born without a common sense gene.  As much as we want everyone to rise to the occasion and be wise about using your platform it will never happen.  It is impossible for some people to think before they post so we need to adapt to the capacity of the weak to protect everyone else.  While there are many issues the viral Gladys Kravitzes use poor judgment on there is one specific one I’d like to discuss.  That is when someone posts the death of someone else before the family members have time to be properly (not online) informed.  This is not good, it does not reflect well on you,  and it is unlikely to get better on its own because not everyone has an ounce of sympathy in their status posting hearts.

But I’m sure you are aware of that.  Or maybe you are so used to seeing your name all over the place that you don’t realize us peon, normal folk don’t like it when it happens to us.  Even though many of us don’t act like it some of us still like privacy and in my opinion I believe everyone deserves the upmost privacy during grief.

Along with my complaint, let me offer a solution.  I miss the technical know-how to make it work but I’m sure you can modify it and get the logistics worked out.  Here’s the basic idea:

  • Look for keyword and phrases in posts. Your program already has the sophistication to tag a photo based on facial recognition surely there can be word cues as well.   Words such as RIP, death, die, passed away, etc are generally flags.
  • Once a post is flagged by key words a pop-up could ask “It appears you are the first to post about this. May we ask a few questions?” Next a prompt could come up and ask if the person is an immediate family member. If the person marks ‘yes’ then a quick follow-up question asking the relation pops up.  That could deter liars from trying to circumnavigate the question with a lie because the post then could say something like “posted by CK (daughter).”
  • If the status-enterer on the previous question is not an immediate family member then the follow-up question could be along the lines of “Do you have permission to post?” Clicking ‘yes’ again has another follow-up.  The name of permission giving  family member that is on Facebook is then entered and that comes up with the final message “This will be verified within 3 days (or whatever time frame)” and a message is sent to the family member to verify.  Of course, if the person does not have permission then the message would be “Please allow 7 days (or whatever time frame) for family members to post.

Or something along that line.  I realize your programs deal with billions of data daily and it’s an impossible task to keep up with all the trouble makers.  But this happens often enough that this or something similar is worth considering.

Thank you for reading.

ck

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