1. An Israeli entrepreneur has set up a social network called Neshama. It has a slight twist: It’s for dead people.
2. Neshama started as a project to preserve and record the details carved on gravestones in Israel.
The site, founded by Shelly Furman Asa, allows people to upload pictures of graves and makes them them searchable by name.
Asa wants the site to be a way for family and friends to add memories and experiences of their dead loved ones. There are some 120,000 on there right now.
Initially, Neshama just took shots of graves in six cemeteries in Israel, but he wants to add more.
Asa says he spent several hundred thousand shekels, or at least £30,000, building the project.
3. What’s the point of this? Asa tells Haaretz:
There are many things that have been done in connection with the commemoration of soldiers, Holocaust victims and so on. But we don’t have simple ways to commemorate – with high visibility – ordinary, everyday people who did not die in heroic circumstances.
4. This is the grave of Ofra Haza, a famous singer, at Yarkon Cemetery near Tel Aviv, one of the participating cemeteries.
5. Here’s an example of a memorial page.
6. Doesn’t Facebook already allow people to create memorial pages?
Yes, but there are strict rules.
Memorialised Facebook accounts look slightly different and have their contact details removed. They also don’t appear in search results and can’t be added to your friends list.
You also can’t log in a Facebook memorial account - even if you have the password and even though the dead person can still receive private messages.
You can create a tribute page to your heart’s content however.
8. So is a “social network for the dead” a valid business model? The founder tells Haaretz.com:
In the first stage − the first year − all we want is for people to visit the site and fill it with content, to have movement. Possibly at the next stage we will ask for a token payment of NIS 3 a month (£0.52) to rent space on the site if you upload a lot of pictures, clips and presentations.
So in effect it’s more a device for people to remember the dead than a supernatural social network. If nothing else, this could be a useful tool for historians and linguistic researchers.
Some people don’t like Facebook’s approach to handling the data and passwords of the dead and this is a huge and growing issue: in a digital age, who controls someone’s legacy when they’re gone?
How we handle the whole issue of death on social media is something we haven’t figured out yet - but as the Facebook generation gets older it’s one we’re going to have to confront.
10. And here’s a chilling thought, from XKCD: At some point in the next 100 years, there will be more dead people on Facebook than live ones.
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