April 29 (UPI) — As many as 4.9 billion Facebook accounts could belong to dead users by 2100, Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute said in a report on Monday.
A statistical analysis entitled “Are the dead taking over Facebook? A Big Data approach to the future” predicts that at least 1.4 billion members will die before 2100, based on 2018 user levels, indicating that dead Facebook users would outnumber the living by 2070. If Facebook expands at current rates, the number of deceased users could reach as high as 4.9 billion by 2100.
“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 Carl Öhman, the lead author of the study.
The 13-page report also said that Facebook’s “zombie accounts” are an historical archive in need of preservation.
“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.” said co-author David Watson.
Facebook recently announced that it has taken steps to stop dead users’ profiles from “appearing in painful ways” online by isolating accounts “memorialized” with the word “Remembering.”