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Bill Austin, the original F.O.B.
June 2nd 2010 saw the passing of our
beloved friend Bill Austin.
We honored his memory with a wonderful
and endearing tribute show that you can
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Our special song for Bill:
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
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KEZ's traffic guru Mark Jeffrey
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While vacationing with his wife in Cancun, Rusty Foster did something many would find inexplicable — he didn’t check his Facebook account. Not once.
But when the couple returned to their home in Peaks Island, Maine earlier this week, Foster learned much to his surprise that he was dead — at least as far as Facebook was concerned.
“Everything seemed OK, but I didn’t try to post anything until Thursday,” Foster told NBC News. Foster says he attempted to log on to his Facebook account, and got the “pink box” instead — the one that reads:
This account is in a special memorial state. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Help Center for further information.
Turns out, while Foster was away, his prankster pal had him declared dead on Facebook, where it’s surprisingly easy to falsely memorialize an account. Since Facebook has no realtime customer service hotline, getting one’s profile resurrected in this case required outside intervention ... from BuzzFeed. When Foster couldn't get Facebook's immediate attention, he wrote a note to the social news site asking for help.
How did BuzzFeed's intrepid reporter Katie Notopoulos help out? By turning around and Facebook murdering her colleague John Herrman, of course.
Being dead — at least on the Internet — is “a little bit anticlimactic,” says Herrman. "I’ve been worrying about it my whole my life and it turned out to just be a Facebook status update."
Unbeknownst to him, Notopoulos had reported him dead for the purposes of investigating Foster's claims, not to mention the possibility of an awesomely annoying (and some might say, dark) prank made possible by Facebook's service for the grieving.
When NBC News turned to Facebook to make sense of this apparently slipshod policy, a spokesperson emailed the following statement:
We have designed the memorialization process to be effective for grieving families and friends, while still providing precautions to protect against either erroneous or malicious efforts to memorialize the account of someone who is not deceased. We also provide an appeals process for the rare instances in which accounts are mistakenly reported or inadvertently memorialized.
Prior to 2009, Facebook users who sloughed off this mortal coil had the unfortunate habit of haunting the living — their pictures popping up on the profiles of their former friends, along with the friendly suggestion from Facebook that y’all should “reconnect.” Four years into the network's existence, and with more than 300 million active users at the time, Facebook realized it had had its fair share of user fatalities, and the pile of creeped-out user complaints that came with it.
So the “Memorializing” function came into being, allowing loved ones to alert Facebook to their friends’ passing and preventing the social network from making potentially upsetting, wildly inappropriate suggestions. Any profile that has been memorialized is locked down: Only friends previously approved by the deceased can even view it, and personal information such as phone numbers are removed.
Before contacting BuzzFeed, Foster had attempted to resuscitate his profile by following Facebook’s appeal process — filling out the online form titled “My Personal Account is in a Special Memorialized State.” But he wasn't keen on killing time in social-media purgatory, and the automated reply Foster first received didn't inspire his confidence. “We are very sorry to hear about your loss,” it read, along with some reassurance that his report would be reviewed in according the site’s policies.