Now there’s a Facebook for dead people

Most of the world’s dead aren’t online—yet.
Most of the world’s dead aren’t online—yet.
Image: AP Photo/EPA/Jim Hollander
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An Israeli entrepreneur has spent “hundreds of thousands of shekels” (tens of thousands of US dollars) to photograph and log 120,000 gravestones, in an effort to create a sort of Facebook/Wikipedia for the dead. It sounds ghoulish, but the project, Neshama, is intended to be the opposite: Each page is to be a memorial to a particular deceased person, where family members can leave remembrances.

So far the site encompasses just five cemeteries, but the idea for the site seems eminently exportable. It’s unclear whether Shelly Furman Asa, the site’s founder, sought permission to take the photographs. But at least in the US, there is little to protect gravestones from being photographed, and similar sites like Find A Grave and BillionGraves already serve amateur genealogists in the US.

Facebook allows relatives to “memorialize” the profile of a deceased person, and cartoonists have calculated that Facebook could have more dead people than living by as early as 2065. Neshama’s differentiator is that Facebook has only existed since 2004, but people have been marking the site of their dead relatives for millennia.

Asa says digitization of more cemeteries is ongoing, and that eventually the site will make money by charging relatives to upload images and other tokens to their relatives’ pages.