Facebook's 'reconnect' suggestion feature has brought to the forefront an often ignored question in social media; what to do with the profiles of people who have died. The problem can be compounded if the person died suddenly or otherwise did not leave behind instructions on what they wanted along with their account info (username and password). Facebook now has an official policy of sorts. They refer to it as 'memorializing' an account. The process removes contact information and status updates. It also changes the privacy setting so that only people who are confirmed friends can look at the page. The account is locked down meaning no one can log on as that person, and the wall becomes a memorial allowing friends post tributes. The 'memorialized' account will also no longer show up in Facebook's 'reconnect' suggestions.
To request an account be 'memorialized', head to http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=deceased and fill out the form.
No word on safeguards to prevent a prank, but I would hope it at least includes sending the person an email (or otherwise using the given contact information to attempt to contact them) and a waiting period. Still, I would be shocked if we do not hear about someone 'declared dead on Facebook' trying to unlock their account.
"We understand how difficult it can be for people to be reminded of those who are no longer with them, which is why it's important when someone passes away that their friends or family contact Facebook to request that a profile be memorialized. For instance, just last week, we introduced new types of Suggestions that appear on the right-hand side of the home page and remind people to take actions with friends who need help on Facebook. By memorializing the account of someone who has passed away, people will no longer see that person appear in their Suggestions.
When an account is memorialized, we also set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. We try to protect the deceased's privacy by removing sensitive information such as contact information and status updates. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into it in the future, while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance.
If you have a friend or a family member whose profile should be memorialized, please contact us, so their memory can properly live on among their friends on Facebook."