MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE
The dead may take over Facebook within 50 years, researchers have revealed.
As more and more people die and leave “ghost profiles” behind, they will eventually overtake the number of living users. Profiles of the dead could number nearly five billion by 2100, scientists at the University of Oxford predict. They say Facebook will become a huge mortuary for people’s digital personas that may need historians to look after it.
“Facebook should invite historians, archivists, archeologists and ethicists to participate in the process of curating the vast volume of accumulated data that we leave behind as we pass away,” said David Watson, an expert at the Oxford Internet Institute who worked on the research.
“This is not just about finding solutions that will be sustainable for the next couple of years, but possibly for many decades ahead.”
The team combined United Nations data on global death rates with Facebook data scraped from the company’s Audience Insights feature.
Their analysis predicts that, based on 2018 user numbers, at least 1.4 billion Facebook members will die before 2100.
Under this scenario, the dead will outnumber the living on the platform by 2070.
If Facebook continues to expand at current rates, however, the number of dead users could reach as high as 4.9 billion before the end of the century.
Researchers said the site had a responsibility to look after its records of the dead.