Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Facebook and Disaster

An Air France Airbus A320-200 landing at Londo...Image via Wikipedia

7Days, with its superior sense of news, leads with the tragic story of Ana Negra Barrabeig, the Dubai based woman who lost her life, returning from her honeymoon, on AF447. Tragically, her new husband took another flight back to Dubai as he had to return to work. Ana had planned to spend a few days with relatives in Spain on her way back.

The story is heartbreaking enough, but there's a macabre little postscript for those of us that like to follow the ins and outs of social media and its growing role in our lives.

Ana's Facebook page is still up, you see. And so journalists researching the story have been able to get details about her employer, her friends (I can only assume friends are getting Facebook and other requests from media) and also have been able to trawl through her photographs and other personal information posted up on the site.

I'd link to her page, but it feels like such a scandalous invasion. Maybe I'm being funny about it.

I had never, strangely, thought about this possibility. I have worked with media on the trail of a 'big' story on many occasions and it's always an interesting experience. The story is everything and woe betide anyone who gets in the way of it. Media will try literally anything to get that 'edge' that 'angle' - including faking sympathy, concern and trying every back door to get through to the subject.

But the media looking into AF447 had a new first port of call. They just had to Google the names of the passengers on the list and start digging into their online background. There it all is - pals, fears, hopes, photographs. Everything you'd want to get started on that story about the people who were lost.

Here's a thought, peeps. Take a look at your online self. What would you be leaving behind if, God Forbid, you were taken suddenly?
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the real nick said...

What would you be leaving behind if, God Forbid, you were taken suddenly?

Ehm, since you ask - lots of insightful comments /philosophical revelations /hilarious bonmots...

Graeme Baker said...

Hardly a new method.

The Virginia Tech massacre was played out through Facebook and Youtube and I've nailed several stories through Google and FB.

There are several companies now that offer to hold all your passwords and erase content on notice of your death, I believe.

Emjay said...

Quite ironically, your closing staement is exactly aligned with a link to 'View my complete profile'.

Jen Gerson said...

Yeah, we've been using fb and friendster to get information on murder victims for a couple of years now.

Graeme is right. VT was the first major tragedy that really took social media on board.

Is this really a bad thing? I mean, we would be knocking on the doors of all of the relatives and friends anyway. People should be careful about what they put on their profiles anyway.

N said...

I think it's been established online that I'm a coffee addict, so I guess that's what I would be leaving behind: N, the One Who Drank All The Coffee

samuraisam said...

"What would you be leaving behind if, God Forbid, you were taken suddenly?"

Nothing. Great to have a common name.

Phillipa said...

It isn't my online profile that would worry me, but all my notebooks and journals. I am completely frank with them and would hate for anyone but me to access them. Should I have a backyard bonfire and delete myself in some sort of purification ritual?

Graeme Baker said...

@Jen, how's the paper going?

@Emjay, no irony - just how the internet works. And journalists who get bylined are easily searched through Google.

Anonymous said...

it would be wierd to navigate thru the fb page of a dead person..and knowing that the last thing on their mind will always be there, even if you log on after 1 year it would still be published as the last thing on their mind and the page would be dormant. It would be a painful reminder that the person is gone.

I always wondered if fb would agree to deactivate a dead person's account, if smne sent them the request to do so.

alexander... said...

SW: It's my understanding that FB will take down a page if they are in receipt of a bona fide request from the person's immediate family.

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