You might not actually be dead, but Facebook could think you are. The social network puts profiles into a “memorial state” when it believes that person has died, and it’s not very hard to trick Facebook into doing this.
Buzzfeed discovered how to prank your friend’s death on Facebook, and it’s a fairly simple process. First, you’ll need to have a friend with the same name of someone who has died recently. Then you need to find that person’s obituary and fill out the “Memorialization Request” form provided by Facebook. It asked for the name of the person, as it is listed on their account, e-mail address, Facebook URL, your relationship to that person, and “proof” of their death. This is where a link obituary comes in.
As Buzzfeed notes, it gets even easier. When writer Katie Notopoulos tried the “prank” out on an editor’s account, she didn’t even need an obituary with the same name spelling. John Herrman in the Facebook profile did not match the name “John Herrmann” on the obituary, but it still went through. This might be understandable, however, as any publication has typos no and again.
Once the Facebook page has been memorialized, anyone trying to access the account will be met with a message that says, “This account is in a special memorial state. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Help Center for further information.” Then there is another form you must fill out called the “My Personal Account is in a Special Memorialized State” form.
Rusty Foster, who fell victim to the tomfoolery filled out the form and tweeted that it had been two and a half days since he’d requested access to his Facebook, and had heard “nothing even resembling a human response.” Facebook spokesperson Fred Wolen told Buzzfeed that the staff does look at each request made regarding Facebook accounts, and provides “appeals” for when the company makes a mistake.