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Mother has Facebook Memorial Page Removed


Judges in Brazil have ordered Facebook to remove the memorial page of 24-year old journalist Juliana Ribeiro Campos, who died last year. The punishment should Facebook deny the order: imprisonment.

While a Corporation has legal status similar to that of a person, it’s an oddity for a company to receive charges of imprisonment. I’m very interested in how that sentence would have been executed. That aside, this case has stirred up a little bit of controversy. Let’s look at what happened.

Juliana Campos died last year in May, due to complications following surgery. Juliana’s Facebook profile was then turned into a memorial, through which the public could express their condolences and support. Upon complaints from Juliana’s mother, Facebook made the memorial page private, and only viewable by Juliana’s friends.

Her friends regularly posted images of the times they shared together, and often recalled their memories of Juliana. While seemingly innocent, this caused a great deal of grief to Juliana’s mother, who found herself crying when faced with this onslaught of images and memories. She fought for many months to have the memorial page removed and eventually, by court order, Facebook took down the memorial page.
While the story is simple, the underlying ethics behind it is a little more complicated. The question is: Did Juliana’s mother really have the right to take down the memorial? Facebooks guidelines state that a deceased persons profile can be removed upon the request of an immediate family member. At face value, this makes sense. But something more should be considered: what of Juliana’s friends?

Juliana Ribeiro Campos

Juliana Ribeiro Campos

Over the course of her 24 years in this world, Juliana built many relationships and bonds. She loved, and was loved; not just by her family, but also by her friends and co-workers. She lived a free life – a life that was hers. The Facebook memorial page allowed her friends, who were probably distraught over her death, to come to terms with her death, as well as embrace her memory. Nobody owned that memorial – it was an area where close friends could share and cherish their memories, as well as support one another. The decision of Juliana’s mother seems almost selfish. I’m not questioning the depth of the grief of a mother – that is something I may never comprehend. What gets to me is the fact that she, as well as the court, acted as if she owned her daughter’s memorial, as well as the memories contained within it. By fighting for it’s removal, she stole a crucial coping mechanism away from many people who, collectively, probably have a stronger claim to that memorial than any one person could.

If the memorial pained Juliana’s mother so greatly, she could have stopped visiting it. If the urge to visit it was too great, she could have blacklisted it altogether. This would allow others access to the memorial, while ensuring that she did not view it. In truth, the deletion of the memorial page was unnecessary, and seems like an act of over assertion. Is it possible that this mother wanted to own her daughter’s memories? That by seeing the grief of others, she felt that her own level of grief was threatened? She may have thought that no one could share as close a bond to her daughter as her, and the memorial page may have threatened this belief. It’s also possible that the onslaught of memories being shared showed her a side of her daughter that she did not approve of. While there is nothing suggesting any of this, speculation is always fun.
Needless musings perhaps – but that’s what I’m here for! What do you think of this case? Did this mother have the right to have her child’s memorial page removed? Did she overreact? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.

  • peace

    Thanks for posting this. It really makes me think about my own decisions regarding my mother’s facebook. My mom had a drowning accident on my 24th birthday, was very sick for 16 months before passing away at the young age of 49. This was in 2009 and she had joined facebook about eight months before her accident. She was much more of a social butterfly than I am, but I loved that about her. She was so thrilled to reconnect with her many child-hood, high-school and college friends. At first, I was a little concerned my mother was on facebook and kind of worried she’d start befriending my own friends … I had a very poor relationship with my stepdad and did not trust him. He was my fourth step dad. Days following my mom’s accident, I seized the opportunity to control my mother’s facebook by using her email on her phone to change the password. I did this for several reasons. 1) I thought my mom could die any day and the thought of my stepdad somehow getting into her facebook and controlling it instead of me made me sick to my stomach. 2) I felt no one would protect my mom better than me. I wanted to make sure all that was being said was in her honor and out of love for her. The thought of someone saying something incorrect about my mom on her facebook and not being able to remove it terrified me. So, basically I wanted to protect her identity. 3) This was more of an afterthought, but it became pure joy to eventually read my mom’s personal messages with the people she loved.

    Having stated why I seized control of my mom’s facebook
    Back to your original post. During the months my mom was in the hospital and following her death, my mom’s page collected hundreds if not thousands of messages and posts from the people who loved her. Most of these people I did not know but many of them knew each other and strangers got to know each other because they were all there, on my mom’s page, to check on her, express their love and prayers for her, and share their memories with other people who were also there to remembering her. Even today, two years later, I cannot read her facebook page very long without deeply grieving. It always ends with a very big crying session. However, the thought of taking away her page to prevent my own sorrow seems like the most cruel thing I could ever do.

    The mother of this young lady is absolutely out of line and I am deeply saddened Facebook took orders from her. She has no right to erase her daughter’s identity and memorial in this world. What a cruel thing to do. The reason the mother gives for fighting for the removal of her daughter’s page doesn’t even make sense. If it makes you cry, don’t look at it, don’t read it. My mom’s grieves for my mom. She cannot emotionally handle to look at pictures of my mom, let alone read letters from her friends. She can’t handle my mom’s facebook page because, like me, she breaks down completely. But my grandmother doesn’t have to look at it, just like this woman doesn’t have to look at her daughter’s page. My grandmother and I didn’t make friends for my mother; she made her friends. Her life and relationships were all her own. Her facebook page represented her life and was and is her’s to own.

    Honestly, I equate what this Brazillian mother has done to spitting on the grave of her own poor child.

    • Muser

      First, thank you for sharing this story of yours. It’s full of your own personal emotions and experiences, many of which were surely sensitive subjects for you – and for that, I (and anyone else viewing this) feel honored to be the recipient of it.

      From the reasons you explained, I think you did a good job to seize control of your mom’s facebook. I also know for a fact that you are, at the core, a very good person. To take something from someone else would be the cruelest thing you feel you can do – I perfectly agree with your line of thought. In fact, I perfectly agree with everything you said. The fact is that this mother could choose not to read it.

      When I wrote this article, what I lacked was relevant emotional experience to really understand the pain of what this mother may be going through. I think through sharing you experience and your pain, you’ve further reaffirmed my position on this.

      You’re a very reasonable person – best of luck to you :)

      • peace

        Thank you for your kind reply. You, too, are quite reasonable and I enjoy reading your thoughts on this and other topics. Keep sharing your valuable insights and take care.