Meagan Kelly was horrified to receive offensive Facebook messages from a friend who passed away four years ago.
Even worse, the messages were sexually explicit, and, Kelly says, she wasn’t the only one to receive it.
“It was a picture of me and my husband and he was commenting on my chest,” Kelly told CityNews on Friday.
And the situation worsened from there. The same user continued to send Kelly private and suggestive messages, including photos of male sexual body parts. She says four other users have received similar notes.
Kelly says her late friend’s account was hacked, and the name is not her friend’s. In fact, the name is not even in English.
“I said ‘Why would you hack a dead woman’s account? That’s not right’,” she said.
“And he just kept sending the same message over and over again. So now, every month he sends me the same thing.”
Kelly said that when she contacted Facebook to complain, the company gave her the runaround.
“They told me to delete and block him,” she said. “I said, ‘Why should I have to do that because that’s my friend’s account. I didn’t do anything wrong. You guys should be going to her account and blocking it and reverting it back to what it was. Not me. Why should I have to delete it?”
What she wants, she says, is for this “hideous” person to be removed from her friend’s account, and for him to stop “sexually harassing grieving friends and family.” She says this strikes a painful chord, as she often goes to her friend’s account as a way to remember her and the memories they shared.
Facebook has protocols in place for profiles of deceased people, but they either need to be set up while the account holder is still alive or family must submit a death certificate to the company.
There are two options: The account can be memorialized, or the account can be deleted. In the first case, Facebook can add the word “Remembering” to the profile name. Friends can share memories on the timeline but the person’s profile won’t show up in suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders.
No one can log into a memorialized account – which is what Kelly says happened to her friend.
Facebook has posted instructions for both options on its website. Click here to see them.
Immediate family members and executors can also request changes to the account. The form can be found here.
According to the company’s own policies, no one will be allowed to log into a deceased person’s account, which leaves Kelly scratching her head as to why her friend’s profile has been taken over.
“This is disgusting, this is spitting on my friend’s memory,” she said, pointing out that social media is often the place people go to grieve. “Instead of visiting gravestones, we visit Facebook pages. And we can express [grief] that way. So it’s sad. Because I don’t even want to post anything on there because I don’t want that guy writing something dirty under it.”
CityNews has reached out to Facebook for an explanation. We are yet to receive an official response.