Brazil judge orders Facebook memorial page removed

By Jefferson Puff
BBC Brasil, Sao Paulo

image captionJuliana Ribeiro Campos died from complications following surgery

A Brazilian judge has ordered Facebook to delete the profile of a 24-year-old journalist who died in May last year.

The mother of Juliana Ribeiro Campos filed a case arguing that messages, songs and photos posted by friends and family caused her extreme distress.

Ms Campos worked as a press officer in Campo Grande, central Brazil, and died from complications following surgery.

Her mother, sociology professor Dolores Pereira Coutinho, 50, campaigned for months before taking legal action.

The page has still not been removed and Facebook told the BBC it "does not comment on specific cases".

The company did not clarify whether it had already been officially notified by the court, in Mato Grosso do Sul state.

Judge Vania de Paula Arantes ruled on 19 March and again on 10 April that the page should be immediately shut down.

A further ruling was issued this week warning Facebook that it has 48 hours to completely remove the profile.

The penalty for disobeying the court was set as imprisonment.

Mrs Coutinho tried to delete the profile on her own for seven months, without success, receiving only automatic replies.

After some time Facebook withdrew public access to the profile.

The page was left as a memorial wall only available to friends, who could continue to post tributes.

However, Mrs Coutinho kept up her campaign pressing the social network's office in Sao Paulo for a decision over several months.

Late last year she decided she had had enough.

"This 'wailing wall' just makes me suffer too much," she told the BBC.

image captionDolores Pereira Coutinho says her daughter's memorial wall is like a "wailing wall"

"On Christmas Eve many of her 200 friends posted pictures they had taken with her and recalled their memories. She was very charismatic, very popular. I cried for days," she said.

Judge Arantes said making the girl's profile into a "memorial wall" went against "the right of personal dignity and inflicted great suffering on the mother, due to the premature death of her only child".

Facebook guidelines include a right to remove a deceased user's timeline and all content associated with it upon request by a verified family member.

However, the social network also set out the idea of a memorial wall in the company's blog in October 2009.

"I suppose they won't totally exclude someone's presence on the website because they do not want the chain to be broken," Mrs Coutinho said.

"It's a network, and each person connects dozens of others. That's the only reason I can find for their resistance," she added, insisting that she is not seeking any form of compensation.

"I just want them to do what the judge ordered, that's all. I have the right to delete this page."

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