Losing a loved one is such a life-changing experience, and our hearts go out to anyone who is left searching for answers. In a world where social media has become such a huge part of our daily dialogue, it’s only natural that we would turn to these sites for more information.


This has been the case for a German couple whose 15-year-old daughter died after being hit by a subway train, in Berlin, in 2012.


The unnamed couple have been desperately trying to get answers about their daughter’s death ever since, and have been trying to get permission from Facebook to access her messages. They believe that this would enlighten them as to whether their daughter was being bullied online, and if her death was actually a suicide.


Facebook, however, has insisted time and time again that giving this access to the parents would be in breach of third party rights.


The parents took their plight to the courts where, in 2015, a judge ruled in favour of giving them this access. According to the Guardian, the judge ruled that the Facebook page should be treated no differently to the teen’s diaries and letters, which they were automatically given access to when she passed away.



Facebook challenged the decision however. An unidentified party had reached out to the social media company after the teen’s death, confirming her passing, and requesting for her page to be ‘memorialised’. This means that while posts and photos will still be displayed on her page, it can no longer be logged into.


Following their challenge, the case went to an appeal, and just yesterday the court ruled in favour of Facebook. The decision reportedly drew largely from telecommunications secrecy law, under which heirs (in this case, the teen’s parents) cannot view the communications of a deceased relative with a third party.


There is still a chance that the unnamed parents will appeal the decision to a higher court, but they have yet to confirm whether this will happen.


Explaining their view on the situation, Facebook released a statement, saying: “We are sympathetic towards the family and respect their wish. 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.”


This case raises major issues regarding intellectual property, and it will be interesting to see what the final result is here, should the parents appeal the decision.