Facebook profiles of the dead may outnumber living ones by 2098

According to a statistician, more people will be dead than alive on Facebook by the end of the century. In other words, by the end of the century, the social networking giant will become the world’s virtual graveyard, as the number of profiles of the dead will outnumber the living users. The social network has 1.5 billion users world-wide.

“Social media website Facebook, which currently has 1.5 billion users worldwide, will turn into the world’s biggest virtual graveyard by 2098,” said Hachem Sadikki, a PhD student from University of Massachusetts.

This will happen because the website refuses to remove the accounts of deceased users. Instead, it turns the page into a “Memorialized” version of the page.

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“Facebook’s refusal to automatically delete dead users and the plateauing membership of the site means that the living will be outnumbered sooner than you might think,” the report said.

Sadikki said he worked out the figure by assuming that Facebook’s growth will begin to slow soon. He also assumed that the social media site will retain its existing policy on how to handle dead users.

The only way to delete the account of a dead person is if somebody has their password and can login and close it down. But given that few people give anyone their Facebook login, the page is likely to stay up long after they have died.

Online legacy planning company called the Digital Beyond has claimed that 970,000 Facebook users will die this year alone across the world, which is far more as compared to 385,968 in 2010 and 580,000 in 2012.

Facebook’s policy on dead users had attracted criticism as some families want more control over how their loved ones are remembered online. Some dead people still appear as having birthdays in users’ news feeds and alerts despite having passed away.

Facebook has tried to solve this problem by asking users to appoint a “Legacy Contact” in advance – that is someone you choose to look after your account after you die.

The “Legacy Contact” is able to manage the page after a user passes away by writing one last post and even approving new friend requests. The contact can also update your cover and profile photo to something more appropriate after you have died.

According to the report, Facebook declined to comment when asked about its own projection for when dead users will outnumber the living.

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