Within the next 50 years, Facebook could feel more like a place for the dead than the living. According to academics from the University of Oxford, by 2069, the dead could outnumber the living on the social network.
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 — digital tombstones friends and family can visit in remembrance of their life.
The tech giant has recognized the implications of dying online and launched a range of features to prevent distress to users — prior to this, users could invite their dead friends to parties and events or wish them happy birthday. The new “memorial” tools allow people to respectfully remember loves ones with an AI system in place to prevent deceased profiles from popping up “in painful ways.”
Having the dead takeover Facebook might not be the worst thing to happen, since most of us live deliberately ignorant of the inevitability of death. The platform will keep you alive in digital form once you die, preserving your online thoughts, memories, and relationships. Our never-ending presence online is changing the way we die, and for those left behind, it’s changing the way we experience and deal with death.
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