Should et al have a way to indicate / handle people who are no longer with us?

If someone passes away, their relatives may not have account access, and people may keep mentioning, DM'ing not knowing about this.

Might lead to painful situations.

I dunno what proper procedures would look like. But I just encountered a RIP toot, which caused me to think about how could deal with things.

Death, activitypub 

@humanetech Perhaps the admin can have the power to "archive" an account and not accept any interactions. This does not need an activity pub support as I see it.

Death, activitypub 

@ashwinvis agreed. It is mostly app-specific. But there's a procedural side as well, and maybe the need to inform about that (for relatives that may have never heard about fedi).

There are other painful situations, e.g. if an admin decides to purge a long inactive account, hence erasing the dear memories of that person that are in their timeline.


i don't think you can properly do something about that. identity theft is a real possibility and when some person from the other part of the world says they are the parent of somebody, verifying that won't work very well


especially in the context of mastodon and the fediverse in general where accounts are very anonymous.

@fruechtchen yep, that makes it particularly hard, if not impossible.

Maybe in some cases official channels (government) may provide help. E.g.

Government: Here's proof that this person deceased.
Family: Here's proof that this person operated this anon account.

But certainly tricky..

@humanetech As usual, there is a general way of dealing with such cases already. Online accounts are subject to inheritance. Therefore by providing proof to the provider, that the person died and they are the rightful successor, they should get access to the account.

Further details are subject to specific laws for the country the service is hosted in, but that's the rough state.

@sheogorath yep this would be a, complicated though still feasible way to handle things.

Tricky, and increating burden on the admin of the instance, and make the right choice (verify + trust the sources)

@humanetech When an admin learns someone passed away it should be possible to freeze the account and that people who send DMs and mentions get a warning the account is frozen.

One could add a contact person in the preferences to be contacted in such cases or to be contacted before an account would be closed for not being active.

This is a general problem in the virtual world. A normally active blogger had not posted anything since last summer. Fortunately I had his email and he was fine.

@VictorVenema yes, freezing the account is what I mentioned in the post. That would be a possible way to deal with it, given the consent of the bereaved.

The contact person would be a nice addition to that functionality.

One other general problem is not having access to the account, and probably not being trusted when asking access. Maybe there are authoritative ways to provide proof (e.g. with help of the government, official channel or something).

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