Facebook's Undead

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Facebook's social algorithms can create some awkward situations. A friend once joked that the "People You May Know" box should be labeled, "People You Know, But Don't Really Like."

But, Jenna Wortham reports, some of the site's automatic suggestions may create much more emotionally fraught situations.
 

Tamu Townsend, a 37-year-old technical writer in Montreal, said she regularly received prompts to connect with acquaintances and friends who had died. "Sometimes it's quite comforting when their faces show up," Ms. Townsend said. "But at some point it doesn't become comforting to see that. The service is telling you to reconnect with someone you can't. If it's someone that has passed away recently enough, it smarts."

And actuarially speaking, with more older people joining the network, the once rare ghost-in-the-machine problem will soon be much more common.

Via Steve Silberman

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/07/facebooks-undead/59957/