Hi, I'm Simon Thulbourn

I'm a software engineer, a runner, and (hopefully) a technical writer.

Updated

There's a been a lot of visitors to this page, I should probably update it since the original page wasn't particularly well written because it was written in a rush at 1AM.

Earlier this week, social media sites had found that Facebook has a page dedicated to memorialising people's profiles once they've croaked it (as seen on BoingBoing) or for when someone's friends want to play a joke on someone.

I may have made a slight mistake by posting this special "I want to make people dead" page to my Facebook wall. My "friend" Johnny sees the page and decides it would be an excellent idea to register me as dead with Facebook.

It turns out, it's remarkably easy to register people as dead with Facebook, you need very little information and the person who you're killing off doesn't need to confirm that they aren't dead, all you need is:

  • Name
  • Networks (not even all of them)
  • Date of birth
  • Their email address
  • A URL of an obituary that no one will bother to read (we'll come back to this)

Given that Facebook is a place where the user base might decide to place most of their information about their life, this isn't the hardest information to get a hold of. And yes, I know what you guys are thinking "he should have used the privacy features". Well I did, except all that information is available normally, I hid my date of birth but if your friends know you, they probably already know it.

Getting back to the obituary part of the "proof", it turns out that it doesn't even have to have your name in it, as they're not going to read it. The obituary notice that Johnny used contained a slightly misspelled version of my name Revd Simon Thorburn, look closely. First, I'm not a reverend and secondly, my surname is Thulbourn

Margaret Emily Dyke The funeral has taken place of Margaret Emily Dyke who lived at Yorkfields, Oswestry and died at her home address on Saturday, 19th September, 2009. The funeral service was held at Pentrebychan Crematorium, Wrexham and was conducted by Revd Simon Thorburn. THANKS. The family of the late Mrs Margeret Dyke wish to express their sincere thanks to all relatives, kind friends and neighbours for the cards, letters and other messages of sympathy and support received in their recent and sudden sad loss. Thanks also for your presence at the Funeral Service and for your generous donations to MacMillan Nurses and Marie Curie Nurses. Thank you.

I've highlighted the key phrase out this obituary, even that Simon Thorburn didn't die, he performed the funeral service.

So with all this information that Johnny could have guessed or got from my profile Johnny sends off the web form to Facebook, who in turn reply with the following email two or so days later:

> Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:00:50 -0700
> To: e13d@hotmail.com
> From: info+nejziqe@facebook.com
> Subject: Re: Deceased
> 
> Hi Johnny,
> 
> We are very sorry to hear about your loss. Per our policy for deceased users, we have memorialized Simon's account. This removes certain sensitive information and sets privacy so that only confirmed friends
> can see the profile or locate it in Search. The Wall remains so that friends and family can leave posts in remembrance.
> 
> Unfortunately, we cannot provide login information for the account. This is strictly for privacy reasons. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
> 
> Thanks for contacting Facebook,
> 
> Jordie
> User Operations
> Facebook

During this time, I continue to use my Facebook account normally, until midnight on Tuesday, I am greeted with this message when I try to login.

Inaccessible Account

This account is in a special memorial state. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit Facebook's Help Center for further information: http://www.facebook.com/help.php

memorial state

Well, that's me dead. I only wanted to check which stupid quizzes my friends have been taking or which idiot has tagged one of them as "The Funny One" in a cartoon grid picture — this would probably be won by Johnny now.

I trawled through the Facebook help pages, alas there are no pages which help people with "I'm not really dead", but I remember that I have another Facebook account that I use for Facebook App testing and figured that I might get a little more help if I login with that account. Nope. that doesn't work because I have to remember my password, which I've forgotten, so I hit the "forgotten password" link and get greeted with the most apt reCAPTCHA message I've ever had. "larceny" this kind of sums it all up in one word.

I use a few social media and social networking sites, so I decide that this is still quite funny and so I decided to tweet about it. Within a couple of minutes, I have a few wall posts from people who are jokingly posting "RIP" messages (picture provided by Johnny since I CAN'T SEE MY OWN WALL). RIP

I have no idea how Facebook failed to see how this could be abused. At least send an email with a timeout to the "dead" person and if they don't respond in a timely fashion then mark them dead.

I'm alive again...

Someone from Facebook has finally emailed me back!

Hi Simon,

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. Your account was memorialized in error. Your account has been reactivated and you will now be able to log in.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Jordie
User Operations
Facebook

Despite filling in every possible form on the Facebook help section, my account was restored after a Facebook employee saw this page on either: TweetMeme, Hacker News or AllThingsD.

I have since been interviewed by: