Deceased Facebook users will outnumber living users before the end of the century, according to a new study.
The Oxford study, called "Are the dead taking over Facebook? A Big Data approach to the future of death online," calculated the user growth of the social media platform. The researchers then determined that at Facebook's current growth rate, 4.9 billion users will be dead by 2100. Even if
doesn't continue growing at the same rate, the number would reach 1.4 billion by the same year.
The study focused on all Facebook profiles belonging to deceased users, not just memorialized accounts. A majority of these deceased users will come from non-Western countries, primarily from Asia, according to the study.
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The study was published last week in the journal Big Data & Society. While it focused on the number of dead users, the researchers stressed the importance of curating this vast amount of data from real people.
"These profiles are becoming part of our collective record as a species, and may prove invaluable to future generations," they concluded.
This April, Facebook introduced a tribute section for memorialized accounts to let family remember their loved ones that passed away.
"We have a deep respect for our unique position in people's lives and take our role in the conversation on building legacy in a digital age seriously," said a Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement.