Numerous heartbroken parents have blasted social media giant Facebook, for not letting them gain access to their dead children’s accounts. Imagine if you’re a parent and Facebook won’t allow you access to your deceased child’s account. This is horrible and also torturous for the grieving parents.
One devastated parent, Lisa Bowie, lost her 18-year-old son Mitchell in 2016, and was denied access to his account. She said the “lack of compassion” from Facebook has been “awful.”
We can only imagine of just how awful it does feel for Lisa, and she’s not the only one being put though this on-going nightmare by Facebook.
Another parent, 51-year-old, Lorin Lafave, lost her son Breck Badner in 2014. Her son was just 14 years old when he was raped and murdered by 18-year-old Lewis Daynes, following from grooming Badner through an online gaming community. His mother commented that it was “heartbreaking” to not be able to access her son’s profile after his passing.
Lastly, the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who committed suicide after watching self harm videos in 2017. Ian Russell has been searching for answers ever since, but said he wasn’t able to search for key information by the social platform.
It had been reported that Molly had been looking at disturbing imagery involving self harm and suicide on sites like Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Her family believe these contributed to her suicide, but they were unable to access her iPhone and also both of her social media accounts, owned by the social media giant.
However, earlier this year, the coroner in Molly’s inquest ordered the police to examine her electronics, which are still being looked at to see what can be retrieved.
“There is no question that what we found online deepened her depression and hastened her demise.” her father said. “She died without a will, she was 14 and everything else quite naturally returns to us as her parents. So should her data.”
“It would be lovely to have access to the clips and photos and to be able to hear her voice again, see messages and understand a bit more about her life.”
“On another level there may be stuff on those electronic devices that throw new light on all of this.”
Ian, of Harrow, North West London, said despite being in possession of Molly’s devices, has not been able to access her digital data. He has since called on the government for parental rights to their children’s devices and online profiles.
“As a family we have had to find ways to move on and get closure and it has probably delayed that,” he said. “I don’t think any family should have to go through that.”
Lisa Bowie pleaded with Facebook to reactivate her son’s account shortly after he died. Her son Mitchell’s suicide is believed to be linked with him meeting a “catfish” on the platform.
However, Facebook told her it was unable to allow her access because he had not given her permission before his death.
“I know there is something more behind Mitchell’s suicide and the information is on Facebook. But Facebook hasn’t helped me, it has done the opposite.” Lisa told The Sun.
“I’m absolutely disgusted. Parents should be able to access their children’s account after their death. We need to get some sort of understanding of why our child has done it, what messages they’ve sent, to see what sites they have been on and if they have been taunted by anyone or bullied into it.”
“The lack of compassion from Facebook has been awful,” and this fact of not letting parents access deceased children’s info, is growing into a major cause for concern and exemplifies the social media sites lack of compassion.
Lisa said her son began talking to the catfish, going by Emily, back in 2014, when he as 16. After a year of talking to “Emily”, Mitchell became withdrawn and wouldn’t leave the house. Lisa claims Emily would constantly call her son, and if he didn’t answer, she’d get angry.
Just a day before his death, phone records showed a phone call from Emily lasting one minute and 15 seconds, but Lisa didn’t know what was said.
Police were able to track down the woman in question, and said they were satisfied she and Mitchell were in a relationship. However, Lisa is certain there is more behind this and that Mitchell’s Facebook held more clues, that still remain undisclosed.
“Mitchell kept deactivating his Facebook account and going back on, probably because of this up-and-down relationship with this fake account.” she said.
“He had deactivated it before he died but we knew Facebook could reactivate it as he’d done many times before. We wanted to get into Facebook to see what messages there were.”
“His friends tried to access his account but we needed to know the security question and I couldn’t think of what it would be. Facebook told me it was unable to help because his account had been deactivated. Surely there must be a way for parents to find these things out after a child’s death?”
However, a spokeswoman for Facebook said it didn’t allow access to someone’s account for security and privacy reasons, even if that person is deceased.
“We do not allow someone to log into another person’s account, even after they have died, in order to protect the security and privacy of the deceased person’s information” the spokeswoman stated. “We understand there could be a valid legal reason to access the account and in those instances we work closely with the relevant authorities.”
As a parent who has had a child that passed away, with potential vital clues present on the Facebook platform for them to recover, and or at least receive some closure, do you think it is right that Facebook will not share their personal information with their parents, in this manner?
Tell us in the comments section below, and if you are a parent in this same predicament with Facebook or Instagram, we wish to hear from you in the article comments, so as to start the debate and perhaps then Facebook will listen up.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: TheExpressTribune