Facebook adds Tributes Section to honour deceased loved ones, promises to use AI responsibly

Facebook says it will use AI to keep accounts of deceased from showing up in places that may cause distress.

Facebook has a new update for its memorialised accounts which are accounts meant to honour loved ones after they pass away. Memorialised account managers will get a lot more controls and the help of improved artificial intelligence to prevent the profile of the deceased from showing up in distressing ways such as getting a notification to wish your deceased friend 'Happy Birthday'.

"These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds as well as experts and academics. We’re grateful to them for helping us understand how we can build more tools to help people find comfort in times of grief," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in the blog post.

Facebook adds Tributes Section to honour deceased loved ones, promises to use AI responsibly

Representational image. Reuters

Using AI responsibly

In the past, there have been instances where Facebook has applied the same AI algorithms to memorialised accounts, as it does to regular accounts. So getting notified to invite a deceased friend to a party or having a memory associated with the same friend pop up in your timeline unannounced, causing unwanted distress, has been an issue. In the past, Facebook had to apologise for exactly this reason when its AI showed highly engaged posts in its 'Year in Review' video, which included photos of friends or relatives who had passed away that year.

Facebook said that it will only allow friends and family members to request that an account be memorialised. If an account hasn't been memorialised, Facebook says that it will use AI to help keep it from showing up in places that may cause distress. This includes steps to avoid a deceased person's account from showing up in tag suggestions for invites to events or birthday reminders.

Tributes Section

Facebook Tributes Section

Facebook Tributes Section

Facebook is also introducing a new Tributes Section which will be a dedicated tab for the deceased, where the timeline will be different from how it appeared when the person was alive. According to Facebook, over 30 million people visit memorialised accounts every month to reminisce about the person or post milestones or stories of their lives. These accounts have the timeline posts from that person and are meant to be a focal point for grieving relatives and friends to share any memories. The Tributes Section will be a separate tab unto itself, making things more organised where sharing your memories about the deceased person is concerned.

More control for Legacy Contacts

Every memorialised account is managed by a legacy contact, who could be a close friend or relative of the deceased, who has been entrusted with managing the deceased person's Facebook account. Legacy contacts have now been given the rights to moderate the posts shared to the new Tributes section by changing tagging settings or removing tags. Legacy contacts can even edit who can post and who can see these posts.

"While minors can’t select legacy contacts, we recently changed our policies to let parents who have lost children under 18 to request to become their legacy contact," said the post.

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