Sanctri Offers a Private Space on Facebook to Grieve

The new app is the latest in how people deal with death online.

November 22, 2013, 3:44 PM

Nov. 22, 2013— -- Facebook is the social network that keeps tabs on all aspects of a person's life, but what happens when that life is over? Jono Milner's answer to that question is Sanctri, a Facebook app that allows users to create memorial pages and cope with the loss of a loved one in their own way.

"A friend of mine passed away and my immediate reaction was to put something on his page," Milner told ABC News. "But it didn't seem at all appropriate, since Facebook is a very public forum."

It can feel weird to write RIP on the same page as their party photo albums and silly status updates. Milner created Sanctri so that it could serve as a separate space from all of Facebook for people to collaboratively grieve. A Sanctri page's administrator can determine whether the deceased's page can be seen and modified by any user, or if only a select group of users can contribute.

In some cases, he says that it can also serve the needs of people unable to attend a person's funeral or wake. "This could be a means for someone to pay tribute who can't be there to write in the guestbook," said Milner. "Everyone has a different grieving process, and I think this will help a lot of people."

Facebook itself allows users to submit a memorialization request and turn a person's account into a memorial page. However, this request can be prone to mistakes, evidenced by an incident early this year where a memorialized account's owner wasn't actually dead.

Google has also implemented its own procedure for dealing with death. Inactive Account Manager, a feature that Google announced in April, allows users to automatically have their accounts (including Blogger and YouTube accounts) deleted after a set period of inactivity. Google will send both an e-mail and text message before it deletes the accounts.

Milner hopes that Sanctri will give people the opportunity to be more upfront and honest about death. "It's a destination for the Facebook generation to talk about bereavement and celebrate humanity," he said. "I think being able to confront and deal with these issues is something that will only benefit us."

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