Online Death Is Knocking On The Door. Facebook Is Not Ready, Study Says

source: Pixabay

Facebook management would remember the past year and a half for quite a long time. The company has undergone many scandals, including Cambridge Analytica and numerous privacy issues. Mark Zuckerberg even had to testify before the Congress. 

What would the future bring for Facebook? How would the social media giant look like in 2070? A group of researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute, affiliated with the University of Oxford tried to find out. 

According to their analysis, within the next 50 years, the dead many outnumber the living on Facebook. The academics estimated that about 1.4  billion users would die before 2100. 

Therefore, by 2070, the dead could be more than the living account holders, provided that the company expands at its current rates, of about 13 percent each year. As of March 2019, Facebook has 2.38 billion monthly active users. 

It is worth mentioning that the researchers obtained United Nations data related to the projected mortality rates from 2000 to 2100, and population levels distributed age across the world. The scientists also scraped Facebook user information from the Facebook Audience Insights feature. Therefore the study does have certain limitations, but as it is one of the first of its kind, its results are of public interest.

According to Carl Ohman, a PhD candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and a lead author of the study, it raises crucial questions about the digital death. Who has the right of all our data after we pass away, how should it be taken care of in the best interest of our families are just among the first questions to be answered.

As David Watson, the co-author of the study put it, whoever controls our data after our death would control our history. In his view, access to our digital archive should not be limited to a single for-profit company. Watson commented that we need to ensure that the future generations would be able to use our digital heritage to understand our and their history.

Therefore, the research team urged Facebook to invite historians, ethicists, archaeologists, and other related professionals to look for sustainable, long-term solutions.

Facebook is currently busier dealing with fake and fraudulent accounts, but it has also been working on ways to handle the online legacy of its users after they pass away. What are the current options?

You can choose a legacy contact to inform your Facebook community of your passing and ''memorialize'' your account. Alternatively, you can opt to have your account permanently deleted.

Have you ever thought about your digital legacy? Do you agree with the Oxford scientists that Facebook needs to work harder to preserve our digital heritage for the next generations?