[Air-L] Introducing myself

Mariana Matos marianasantiagodematos at gmail.com
Sat Jul 4 04:35:49 PDT 2009

Hello, Nishant!

Thank you very much for your message and the link for your article. It seems like something close to what happens in Brazil, although maybe there are some differences. 

I have a question that maybe you'll be able to answer. The two youngsters who died still receive many scraps on Orkut. I guess it may be due to the high publicity that their cases achieved, and also because their deaths are somehow linked to their Orkut use. Do you notice that it happens also with people whose death wasn't on the media? I ask it because in Brazil dead people's profiles in general keep receiving scraps, even if they weren't published by the media. In these cases, we can see friends and family writing often. In the scraps, they write about how they're missing the deceased person, they "talk" about their memories and also they tell them about things happening on their everyday. The scraps don't seem like tributes, they're very personal and emotive.

The fake profiles are something that also happen in Brazil. It's common to see fake profiles when the death's a result of murder or other brutal crime, and often when it gains a huge space on the news. I must add that people don't clone just the deceased person's profile, but also the murderer's one, in some cases. We had last year a brutal crime that resulted in the death of a little girl, who was supposedly killed by her own father. The father's profile on Orkut was cloned by so many people that we cannot tell which one is the real one. 

Actually I searched the 2 teenagers from India profiles, and I think I just found the fake ones. Do you know which are the real ones? I think it would be interesting to have a look on them.  I'm also very interested on the chapter of your thesis concerned these 2 deaths. I'd be very thankful if you could send it to me!

Thank you very much for your information!


PhD Student
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nishant Shah 
  To: Mariana Matos 
  Cc: air-l at listserv.aoir.org 
  Sent: Friday, July 03, 2009 4:27 PM
  Subject: Re: [Air-L] Introducing myself

  Hi Mariana,
  Thanks for the introduction to your work. It sounds quite fascinating and indeed has seen some parallels in India. Especially with a couple of high-profile cases which found a lot of publicity in the mainstream media, and were dubbed facetiously as 'Orkut Deaths', we saw a similar phenomenon in India. In both the cases, the two young people who died, left active profiles which were at the centre of a great public debate and resulted in thousands upon thousands of people coming to see, to comment and to leave testimonials and messages of grief, condolence, and anger at the tragic turn of events. I had written a small Op-ed for a national daily that gives some of this information which you can research further (http://www.hindu.com/mag/2007/09/02/stories/2007090250010100.htm ). I also have a chapter in my PhD thesis that deals with these two cases and gives more details about the same. Please let me know if you would like to have a look at them and I will email it to you in person.

  One of the more important thing about these live profiles of people who had passed away, was also the appearance of clones. There were suddenly many people who were creating 'false' accounts, appropriating the persona of the dead, and also receiving a lot of comments and scraps.I found this particularly interesting because these accounts were accurate in the information about the dead persons and also appropriated their pictures, creating elaborate false networks and photo albums to create a certain notion of authenticity.

  Hope this information is helpful to you,


  On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 8:50 PM, Mariana Matos <marianasantiagodematos at gmail.com> wrote:

    Hello there!

    I've been on the list for almost 2 months, but, until now, I've just read what people were writing. And I must say there are many interesting topics being discussed! However, I'd like to introduce myself and share with you all information about my research subject.

    I'm a psychologist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a PhD student at PUC-Rio (the Catholic University). I'm part of a group of researchers who have been studying the psychological and social impacts of the use of technology such as the Internet, cell phones, games, and some others. The group is leaded by Professor Ana Maria Nicolaci-da-Costa, who's been researching on this subject since the very beggining of the use of Internet in Brazil.

    My research in on the habit of writing scraps, on Orkut (the most popular social network site in Brazil), to people who died and left their profiles active. As you should know, if someone dies, the profile may still be active, what happens if no one deletes it or asks the site to delete it. I've been observing that a substantial number of dead people's profile receive a great amount of messages, writen often by close friends and family. In these messages, they "talk" about their feelings, tell the dead about their quotidian (i.e. what they did in the weekend), talk about their memories etc.

    I have the impression that this is a brazilian phenomenon, and I'd like to ask you if you see something similar in your countries, even if people use other SNS, like Facebook or any other. Do you know people who died and let their profiles? Do you know if they still receive messages, even if more than one year have passed since the death?

    Best regards,

    Mariana Matos-Silva
    PhD Student
    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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  Nishant Shah
  Doctoral Candidate, CSCS, Bangalore.
  Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,( www.cis-india.org )
  Asia Awards Fellow, 2008-09
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