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By 2069, Facebook could have more dead users than live ones

Does that make it Deadbook? Maybe NoFacebook? Zombiebook? Hmm…

Facebook gravestone
Image: Josiah Motley / KnowTechie

Facebook’s F8 developer conference starts today, and what a better way to start the news than to say that before the end of this century, Facebook could have more dead users than live ones. A study conducted by some academics at the University of Oxford has a chilling conclusion – by 2069, the dead could outnumber the living on the social network.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Now, instead of parish churches being the only register of births, deaths, and other important life events, we turn to Facebook to keep the historical record. While the thought of sharing the platform with an ever-increasing number of dead users might seem ghoulish, it’ll be invaluable for future historians.

If Twitter is the social network of record for current events, maybe Facebook could be the social network of record for past events

We can’t stop death (yet, although Silicon Valley is trying hard). Facebook’s user statistics from last year let the researchers predict that, depending on which scenario you follow, in 50 years the number of dead users could be 1.4 billion (assuming no new users) or 4.9 billion (assuming current growth rates until 100-percent of the planet have a profile).

With over two billion Facebook users right now, the first scenario would result in Facebook becoming a digital graveyard. Even the conservative scenario based on existing growth rates would mean dead users would equal living ones early in the next century.

Facebook has finally realized the implications of having accounts of deceased users resurface constantly

The platform has added features to avoid distressing events, fixing issues such as being able to invite dead friends to events, or even wish them a Happy Birthday. Converting a profile to a memorial one also uses AI to prevent those profiles from turning up “in painful ways.”

Turning Facebook into a digital cemetery might not be the worst thing that could happen. If the researchers’ first scenario comes true, the only active users on Facebook might be bots.

What do you think? What do you think Facebook should do about accounts of those that have passed? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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