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Beyond the Grave: Where does Facebook go when you die?

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Where does your Facebook account go when you die?

Misty Delaney was nine years old when her brother was born. She always felt a special connection to him. So when he died in May of 2010, she was devastated. Within a week of his death, she made a Facebook memorial page for him. He never had his own profile before his death and she thought it'd be a good way to remember him.

"My family all lives in Oklahoma so it was a way to all share our thoughts," said Misty Delaney.

Now, on a daily basis she connects with Jimmy Culbreath's friends and family without ever picking up the phone.

"His ex wife posts pictures of the kids, and his friends can go and post and I've gotten to hear things I never ever knew before so that was neat,' said Misty.

Memories about Jimmy created after his death thanks to social media.

"We use it to talk to him and update him," said Misty.

A cemetery is a place that's full of memories, but for many people it's also a sad place that's a reminder of death. So a lot of people are now saying checking out Facebook profiles of those who have passed on is actually a better way to remember them.

Courtney McKenzie doesn't want to be sad when she thinks of her cousin Colby Fortenberry, because he always was such a good time.

"He was always there to make me laugh. We did a Halloween thing where we all dressed up. And halfway through the night his face paint came off so he just dressed up as a woman. It was funny as all get out," said Courtney.

She checks his profile all the time.

"It makes you realize how many people's lives he touched and how many people cared about him," she says.

But as much as it helps Courtney, sometimes it reminds her what she's missing.

"I catch myself wanting to say something and stop because he wont answer. He's not really there," she said.

John Rodriguez, assistant professor of communication at ULM says it's a double edged sword.

" I think it doesn't give closure. Some people seeking closure wont get it. But then for others it's a living digital memorial that's always going to be there," said Rodriguez.

To protect itself from lawsuits Facebook won't ever give out your password, so unless you delete your profile your memory really does live on forever.

Plus whether you are dead or alive material loaded to the site can still be used by Facebook how it sees fit.

"They don't have to notify you. They can just use it," says Rodriguez.  

But you can ask Facebook to place a memorial status on a page, they will research the person to make sure he or she is deceased before changing the status

And for Misty and Courtney it is a comforting connection to their loved ones from beyond the grave.

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