The dead will eventually outnumber the living on Facebook. According to a new study whose authors want us to think more about the importance of preserving our collective digital histories.
The number of dead users on Facebook is growing at an unstoppable rate. In 2012, eight years after the platform launched, 30 million users had died.
Today, it has over two billion users and an estimation of 8000 users die every day. Based on Facebook’s user statistics in 2018, researchers have predicted the number of dead users could reach at least 1.4 billion. Or potentially as high as 4.9 billion by the end of the century.
Over the past few years, the company’s growth has dramatically slowed down. In the most extreme scenario in which the platform acquires no new users, Facebook will become a digital graveyard by the end of the century. And this just includes profiles turned into “memorial” accounts . It will be like digital tombstones friends and family can visit in remembrance of their life.
Facebook recently released several updates for memorialized accounts (active accounts for people who have passed away). It allows people’s accounts to stay as they were before they died. It’s part of social media companies’ wider efforts to grapple with the thorny problem of what to do with dead people.
“These statistics give rise to new and difficult questions around who has the right to all this data, how should it be managed in the best interests of the families and friends of the deceased and its use by future historians to understand the past,” said the lead author Carl Ohman of the study.
Preserving Digital Data For Future Historians
Co-author David Watson said that, “Facebook should invite historians, archivists, archaeologists and ethicists to participate in the process of curating the vast volume of accumulated data that we leave behind as we pass away.”
“This is not just about finding solutions that will be sustainable for the next couple of years, but possibly for many decades ahead,” he added.
Source – time.com, thenextweb.com, technologyreview.com, ndtv.com, techtimes.com