Facebook dead to outnumber living by end of the century, statistician claims

Facebook will become a digital graveyard by the year 2098, a US statistician has claimed, predicting the point at which dead users will outnumber the living.

Facebook dead to outnumber living by end of the century, statistician claims

Hachem Sadikki, a PhD candidate in statistics at the University of Massachusetts, took into account Facebook’s growth, demographic data and death rates obtained from the Centres for Disease Control. According to Fusion, he has based his prediction on the assumption that Facebook’s growth will plateau within the next few years.

The social network currently has 1.5 billion users. Loved ones of the dead can turn their profiles into memorials, and Facebook introduced a feature in 2015 that allows users to elect a “legacy contact”, who will be able to respond to friend requests, write pinned posts and update the profile picture on the deceased’s profile.facebook dead

While Sadikki’s calculations make a few missteps – he assumes that everyone who dies on the social network will be memorialised – his figure is relatively close to the one put forward by ex-NASA scientist and creator of the web comic xkcd, Randall Munroe. In 2013 Munroe predicted that, if Facebook’s popularity plateaus, the crossover point will happen around 2065. He also calculated that if Facebook continues to flourish, the dead would outnumber the living in around 2130.

How death is handled online is an evolving area. As I previously wrote as part of a look at how death is being affected by new technology, we will be exposed to death on a very different scale to our parents and grandparents. Not because of plague or war, but because of the internet.

Regardless of whether the dead outnumber the living on Facebook in the next 50, 100 or 150 years, the way we think about death is going to change as a result of digital technology. More and more of our lives are lived online, and as the original userbase of these platforms ages, death will inevitably be part of that.

READ NEXT: Death and the internet: How Facebook and Twitter are changing the way we think about death 

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