Facebook has quietly launched a new feature that allows users to mark profiles of dead users as being a "memorial". Friends and family will be able to report to Facebook the fact that a user has passed away, offering "proof" via an obituary or news article.

The move comes after a few awkward cases where users were receiving updates from their dead friends. If a profile is "memorialized" then status updates and contacts will be removed from the page and will no longer be available. Special privacy settings will also be applied, where only friends will be able to view the profile.

Max Kelly, Facebook's privacy boss, wrote on the company's blog: "When someone leaves us, they don't leave our memories or our social network. To reflect that reality, we created the idea of 'memorialised' profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who've passed".

The company asks anyone who wants to submit a profile as deceased to fill out a webform.