Have you ever wondered what it would be like to attend your own funeral? On Friday, Facebook gave me that option by telling me that I was dead. Things got weirder when it also told me that most other people I knew were dead, too.
Is it still your own funeral if everyone else is dead?
“We hope people who love Katie will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate her life,” Facebook told me in a very nice way on Friday afternoon. The social network even posted the message next to an illustrated flower.
At first, I was indignant. I was definitely not dead. (Was I? It had been a long week.)
Then I thought I had been hacked. Then I asked a few of my colleagues. Also dead.
“Am I dead, too?” someone shouted.
But it wasn’t just confined to The Times. It’s unclear how many of Facebook’s some 1.7 billion users were told they were dead, but it was obvious that others outside of the media business had seen the notification on their pages. In a statement relayed through a spokeswoman, the social network said it regretted the error and that the glitch had been fixed.
“For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialized profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts,” the statement read. “This was a terrible error that we have now fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it.”
The death notices caused a ripple on social media and elicited more than a few “aren’t we all a little bit dead after election week” jokes. For others checking the pages of loved ones, the misleading news was a bit startling.
“My buddy’s page is marked as deceased,” Chris Dailey, one of my Twitter followers who lives in Orlando, Fla., wrote me. “Funny, he’s sitting right next to me and looks good for a dead guy!”
Others responded by sharing a photo of their own page.
Someone even captured a memorial page for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive.
Minutes after whipping the internet into a frenzy, it seemed that Facebook removed the feature. This being social media, people were disappointed not to be included in the fun.