Though there are processes put in in place to give Facebook users their privacy, including legacy contacts, but a court deemed access for some grieving parents.
The court, in Germany, agreed that Facebook Profiles should be made accessible to people’s heirs after they have died, according to CNET.
The case in question, was the page that was run by a 15-year-old girl who had died after being hit by a train in 2012, and the parents lobbied to have the Facebook Page accessible to themselves, but to also push forward for other cases in which people wanted to access their children’s Facebook accounts after death.
Typically, when someone has died, Facebook turns the page to a memorial account, where people can contribute testimonials to the deceased user. Facebook also allows a legacy contact that you can appoint who can access your Facebook Page in the event of your death. They are able to log in, but not access any personal messages or data.
According to the report from CNET, Germany has ruled that Personal Facebook Data should be considered the same as personal letters and diaries passed on to the heirs of the deceased, which is pretty awkward since many people live a decent amount of their lives on Facebook. Now, the fact she was only 15, she may not have been involved in anything that would disappoint her parents, but I know anywhere between 16-21, there are probably a lot of things you do online that you wouldn’t want your parents to see.
A Facebook spokesperson is quoted saying “These questions — how to weigh the wishes of the relatives and protect the privacy of third parties — are some of the toughest we’ve confronted… We empathize with the family. At the same time, Facebook accounts are used for a personal exchange between individuals, which we have a duty to protect.”
The reason the family wanted access so badly, enough to take it to court, was to determine if she was suicidal or not, as well as find out if the driver was entitled to compensation.
It’s hard to know whether this is a violation of rights due to her age or considering that she is a minor if the parents are in the right unearthing this data.