Facebook refuses to remove deceased woman’s account

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CUP) – When a relative passes away, the last thing you would expect or want to see is that person suddenly updating their Facebook status. Unfortunately, this was the case for a girl in Nova Scotia, whose mother’s account had been hijacked on the popular social networking site.

Shelby Breimer, a 15-year-old from Truro, N.S., lost her mother nine months ago after a long battle with breast and lung cancer – but when Shelby logged onto Facebook a couple of weeks ago, she was surprised by an unsettling message from her mother, Helen, boasting about a product called CleanseProX.

“I’m 8-1/2 pounds lighter thanks to the FREE trial pack of this new colon cleanser that I got! Visit PurgeColon.net to get yours!” read the fake testimonial. It had been apparently updated via a Facebook cell phone application that Shelby’s mother never had.

Similar complaints were made from Facebook users, whose accounts had also been hacked and were sending messages and updating statuses similar to Helen’s. Helen’s friends and family complained to the company in question, CleanseProX, who promised it would remove the ad and post an apology on Facebook. Not only was there was no apology, but a new ad shortly appeared on Helen Breimer’s page.

Facebook has not removed the account, which means that another ad hijacking is still possible. Facebook’s policy for deceased users states that accounts are to be “memorialized” if a user passes away: only confirmed friends can see the profile, and the user’s wall remains enabled that friends and family can continue to leave posts in the user’s memory.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been the recent targets of many hackers and spammers who have begun to attack by means other than traditional email and websites. The Breimers are now considering taking legal action against CleanseProX and Facebook to try and put an end to such scams that are not only invasions of privacy, but potentially devastating to the friends and family members of the affected accounts.