It's Super Easy To Lock People Out of Their Facebook Accounts by Claiming They're Dead (Updated)

In this new world of social media, plenty of your accounts are going to soldier on after you die. Get ready. But in the meantime, it's easy—too easy—to convince Facebook just about anyone is dead, at which point the site will lock down the account as a memorial until the supposed corpse argues otherwise.

The vulnerability was discovered by one Rusty Foster, who was unfairly Facebook-killed, after which Buzzfeed tested out the process on one of its own. It's as easy as can be.

In order to submit a "memorialization request" all you have to do is fill out a short form including the target's name, one of the emails associated with the target's account, your relationship to the target (which you can just lie about) and "proof of death." As for proof, Facebook will accept something as flimsy as an online obituary of the same name, even if it's for a person of a different age in a different state, who even spells his name differently.

Once your account is memorialized, there's not much you can do other than filling out a form that basically says "Hey, I'm alive," and waiting. In Rusty's case, the issue took days to resolve. Memorialization doesn't delete or destroy anything, but it's definitely a hassle for anyone who isn't dead, and it's ridiculously easy to fake. Hopefully Facebook will button this up soon, or the ensuing memorialization prank wars could start racking up casualties. You can read more about the process at Buzzfeed. Here's to hoping you have a unique name. [Buzzfeed]

Update: A Facebook spokesperson sent us the following statement:

We have designed the memorialization process to be effective for grieving families and friends, while still providing precautions to protect against either erroneous or malicious efforts to memorialize the account of someone who is not deceased. We also provide an appeals process for the rare instances in which accounts are mistakenly reported or inadvertently memorialized.

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