Twitter. And Facebook. And death.
The Twitter Web site displayed on a laptop computer.
Cheerful topic for a Monday morning, don't you think?
Twitter has confronted the idea of death. We all have to eventually, right? The microblogging site has announced a new policy for when users die. Once the death is confirmed, the account can come down and they can send the family an archive of the person's tweets. Or the family can choose to just leave the account alone.
Facebook offers a third choice: leave the web presence there but turn it into a memorial to the deceased. No new friends would be added but those who were already there can post things to the person's wall.
It's kind of a weird time for social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a regular part of our society, which inevitably involves all aspects of society, including death. But while these sites are good at organizing parties and making jokes, they've never had a good framework for the big inevitability of death itself.
We talk to Ira Brooker and Kim Osland, a couple of our Twitter followers, about how they've encountered and dealt with death through social media. We also check in with John Troyer, Deputy Director at the Center for Death And Society at the University of Bath in England. We get his thoughts on ritual, technology, and how we're dealing with death in the digital world.