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Parents denied access to dead teen's Facebook account

Parents denied access to dead teen's Facebook account
© Marcin Winnicki | Dreamstime.com

This story is heartbreaking. After the death of their daughter, parents in Germany tried to access her Facebook account to get more answers.

What happened next could happen to anyone in a similar situation. You won't believe how the social media giant responded to the parents' request.

Why Facebook denies access to memorialized accounts

This unfortunate situation began back in 2012 when a 15-year-old-girl died after being hit by a subway train in Berlin. The girls' parents were worried that it may have been an act of suicide.

In an effort to find the truth, the parents wanted to access the girls' Facebook account to see if there were signs of bullying or anything else that could have led to her death. Facebook denied them access to the account.

The "Guardian" is reporting that the deceased girl gave her parents her Facebook password about a year before the incident. However, after the girl passed away, a friend reported her death to Facebook and the account was set to "memorialized." That means no one is able to log into the account again and it's only used as a place for friends and loved ones to post their goodbyes.

The parents decided to take Facebook to court over its decision to keep them out of the account. The girls' family won the original court case, but that decision was overturned this week by an appeals court.

According to Reuters, the German appeals court said that the right to private telecommunications extended to electronic communication that was meant only for the eyes of certain people. Also, the right to private telecommunications outweighed the right to inheritance. It went on to say the parents' obligation to protect their daughter's rights expired with her death.

Facebook said in a response to this week's ruling, "At the same time we are sympathetic towards the family and respect their wishes. We are making every effort to find a solution, which helps the family at the same time as protecting the privacy of third parties who are also affected by this."

At this time, there's no way to access messages once a Facebook account has been memorialized. The best thing users can do is set up a Legacy Contact. This gives them the power to manage their Facebook account after they pass on. Click here to learn how to set one up.

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