Will the dead outnumber the living on Facebook within 50 years?


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 07 May 2019
  • Copyright: Quka/Shutterstock

A paper published in the Sage journal, Big Data & Society completed by academics at the University of Oxford predicts the dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within fifty years, a trend that will have serious consequences for how we treat our digital heritage in the future.

Carl J Öhman and David Watson, both of the Oxford Internet Institute, based at the University have taken a Big Data approach when considering the future of death online. According to their data analysis which is based on 2018 user levels, at least 1.4 billion members on Facebook will die before 2100. Therefore, the dead could outnumber the living by 2070. If Facebook, the world's largest social network continues to expand at the rate it currently is, the number of deceased users could reach as high as 4.9 billion before the end of the century.

thumbnail image: Will the dead outnumber the living on Facebook within 50 years?

' "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 lead author Carl Öhman, a doctoral candidate at the OII.' (Science Daily)

Co-author David Watson, a DPhil student at the OII, added: "Never before in history has such a vast archive of human behaviour and culture been assembled in one place. Controlling this archive will, in a sense, be to control our history. It is therefore important that we ensure that access to these historical data is not limited to a single for-profit firm. It is also important to make sure that future generations can use our digital heritage to understand their history."' (Science Daily)




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