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Facebook To Become A ‘Digital Graveyard’

Facebook To Become A ‘Digital Graveyard’

If Facebook continues to expand at current rates, the number could be a lot higher

Facebook is set to become a “digital graveyard” within 50 years, with the number of deceased users expected to outnumber the living by 2070.

A new report by academics from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) – part of the University of Oxford – sets up two potential extreme scenarios.

The reality, of course, will fall somewhere in between.

Facebook To Become A ‘Digital Graveyard’. Based on the first scenario, at least 1.4 billion members will die before 2100, and the dead will outnumber the living by 2070.

However, if Facebook continues to expand at current rates – as per the second scenario – the number of deceased users could reach as high as 4.9 billion before the end of the century.

The academics warn that the trend that could have grave implications for how we treat our digital heritage in the future.

“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.

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“On a societal level, we have just begun asking these questions and we have a long way to go.

“The management of our digital remains will eventually affect everyone who uses social media, since all of us will one day pass away and leave our data behind.

“But the totality of the deceased user profiles also amounts to something larger than the sum of its parts.

“It is, or will at least become, part of our global digital heritage.”

Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram , is the world’s largest social networking platform.

The social network has a system in place for when a user dies, which allows a “legacy contact” to take over their account and turn it into a memorial space rather than an active profile.

Facebook said recently that more than 30 million people view memorialised profiles on the platform every month.

Co-author David Watson, who also a DPhil student at the OII, said that Facebook is merely an example of what awaits any platform with similar connectivity and global reach.

He called on these sites to 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.

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Source: UK Mirror

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