Sheryl Sandberg Helps Facebook Rolling Out New Features to Handle Profiles of Dead Users

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Facebook announced Tuesday a much-anticipated change concerning the profiles of deceased people. It would also include using artificial intelligence to help keep their profiles from showing up in place that might cause emotional reactions and distress.

As a part of the amendment, Facebook is including an additional tab on the deceased users' profiles, where friends and family could write tributes, memories or posts of remembrance. If they want to see the original timeline of the preserved account, they need to switch tabs.

Facebook would also prevent inviting deceased people to parties or events, sending reminders of the users' birthday or including them in the friends' suggestions list.

While working on the amendments, the social media giant took into account the feedback of users, the advice of experts in grieving, and the recommendations of people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The company also took into account the personal experience of its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. She lost her husband, Dave Goldberg unexpectedly in 2015. 

Despite her high ranking within the company, Sandberg was not able to stop the appearance of her late partner from popping up on the platform, causing her additional pain. Until recently, Facebook's algorithms could not identify whether a user was still alive or not, Sandberg admitted.

In her best-selling book, Option B, Sandberg talks about her husband's death and how she managed to put herself back together. She highlighted that she relied on his Facebook profile to remember him and preserve memories and tributes for their children. 

The social media giant has been working on the best solution to handle the profiles of deceased users for years now. It made the first big step in that direction in 2015, when it introduced a feature to let people appoint a ''legacy contact'' - someone to manage their Facebook account when they pass away.

Family or friends can fill in an online form to inform the social network about their loss. Once Facebook ''memorializes'' it, the legacy contact can take control to change the users' profile picture and to respond to messages.

In the past, anyone could memorialize an account by contacting Facebook. The processes often started before the family, and loved ones were ready for it. Under the new rules, only the family and friends will be able to do that.

Also, from now on, the legacy contact would also be able to moderate posts shared to the newly-introduced tributes section.

Facebook estimated that more than 30 million people attend memorialized profiles monthly. 

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