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Learning of death through Facebook posts

February 8, 2010

What a terrible story, and sadly not the first of its kind that I have heard about.

Two siblings learned of their brother’s death via Facebook before the police had even notified their family. How awful must that have been for them, and equally how surreal.

My college roommate told me just the other day that she learned of the deaths of several people from her high school (one of whom she played hockey with) through Facebook before anyone told her personally.

I know people learned of my friend David’s death through Facebook posts from myself and many others, and this is not an uncommon occurrence.

In the case of the siblings learning of their brother’s death, the police were at fault for not informing the family soon enough, and for not questioning more people to get the family’s information. 

It’s so easy to go online and publish information, condolences or anything at all in an instant. But how often do we think of the consequences of such posts? When writing tragic news, do we wonder about those who will see it for the first time because of our post? 

I cannot even imagine how terrible it must feel to learn of the death of a loved one through wall posts. My heart goes out to that family, and to everyone who receives such tragic news in such a callous way.

After reading about stories like this one, do you feel that social networking sites do more harm than good? Or do you think that people should be able to grieve openly, without fear that their words will break the news to those who have not yet heard? I see both sides here, and would love some other opinions.

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