Making a memorial: Struggling with a Facebook glitch

“I’m going to protect you and love you forever.”

Those are the first words Spencer Hayes said to his sister Anna as he held her the day she was born. Today, Anna is struggling to commemorate his last.

Spencer, a 2012 Oakland University graduate and elementary school teacher for the Huron Valley school system, died from injuries sustained in a car accident Oct. 25, 2012. He was in Detroit meeting friends for dinner. He was 26 years old.

It has been three months since Spencer’s passing, and his family has tied up all the loose ends that come with such a tragedy, but one thing remains — his Facebook page.

In the cards

Spencer was an integral part of the online community Icrontic — a game and tech website. There, he wrote reviews for games and was a contributor to their events.

He was downtown helping set up their Oktoberfest expo when he was killed.

Spencer was also on his way to becoming a professional player of the card game “Magic: the Gathering.” He had recently qualified as one of the top 10 players in the nation and was scheduled to compete in finals over the summer.  Anna still plays with the mat he was awarded for the achievement.

Spencer was a very humble person, Anna said. So when they celebrated his life — a decision made by his family in lieu of a traditional funeral — she was pleasantly surprised to see how many lives he had touched.

Spencer was a technology teacher for 27 classes at 20 students apiece, Anna said.

“We received cards from all of them,” she said.

But not everyone was able to pay their last respects. And that’s where the issue lays.

Making a memorial

Anna first tried to memorialize her brother’s Facebook page the day after he passed. She is still awaiting a response from the site.

On their site, Facebook clearly outlines the necessary steps for requesting the memorialization of a page. Anyone with login credentials can make a request; four things must be provided to do so: the name of the deceased as it appears on the account, an email address, the URL link to their timeline, the relationship between the deceased and the requester and a proof of death (online obituary or news article.)

Kyle Caducio, senior computer sciences major and a friend of both Anna and Spencer, has been battling the same issue for even longer. His cousin Amanda passed away in 2007. In September of last year, just before Spencer’s passing, he decided to finally memorialize her timeline — seeing as it wasn’t a feature on the site at the time of her passing.

Caducio followed all of the necessary steps but never heard from the site like the form says. So when Spencer’s page posed the same issues, he took it upon himself to help.

“When you have all of the information, especially when it’s an automated system, it shouldn’t take this long to do it,” Caducio said.

Recently, Anna created a community page on Facebok, simply titled “Make Spencer Haye’s Account a Memorial Page.” On it she lists the information needed to fill out the form and asks for help.

“Maybe if (this) page becomes large enough and noticeable enough, they (Facebook) will be able to take care of it,” Anna said.

The largest issue Anna and Caducio have encountered is communication. Not only has the memorialization form proved to be faulty for them, but also despite hours of searching, they realized there is no way to formally contact the company.

As a computer science major, Caducio says he is familiar with the necessary process for something like this to work and that makes it harder for him to understand the flaw they’ve encountered.

“I know how easy it is for a big company like that to write a simple script to verify things and then run it,” he said.

Both Anna and Caducio are persistent to solve this issue for similar reasons.

Anna attributes the social highway as a part of her coping. Within hours of Spencer’s passing, she was receiving sympathetic messages on her Facebook wall from friends and strangers alike.

Caducio see’s it as a final place for goodbyes.

“If anyone wants to pay respects to (Spencer) … because they (his family) had him cremated as opposed to buried, there’s somewhere for them to go to pay their respects that is more official.”

More information

On Facebook:

Greiving online:

Facebook memorial form:


After this article was published, Anna Hayes was contacted by Facebook.

Christopher Blizzard, platform developer advocacy for the site, commented on Anna’s community page, saying he was looking into the issue and wanted to help.

Yesterday Anna posted on the community: “Okay, I have been talking to the amazing Christopher Blizzard and he’s really trying to help us out! He says that his page IS memorialized, but there are some things on his facebook where we’re not sure if they are bugs or intentional, but he’s going to continue to help us until everything is resolved. Thank You Christopher!”

The Oakland Post will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.