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The Hashtag #Zombiefacebook Is Trending And We Tell You Why

New Study Spikes #Zombiefacebook By 2070, more dead people than a living will have Facebook profiles, says a new study by the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. The...

New Study Spikes #Zombiefacebook

By 2070, more dead people than a living will have Facebook profiles, says a new study by the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. The study estimates that by the end of the century, there will be between 1.4 billion to 4.9 billion dead Facebook users with profiles on the site. This prospect has prompted ethical debates about what to do with all the data from these profiles, as well as a new trending hashtag: #zombiefacebook.

“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,” study leader Carl Öhman said.

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. The highest number of “dead profiles” will come from India, due to its large population, and the United States, because of its high rate of Facebook use.

The Oxford researchers said Facebook should prepare ahead of time for how to manage the data from “zombie” accounts that remain live on the site. “Facebook should 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,” the study’s co-author, David Watson, said. “This is not just about finding solutions that will be sustainable for the next couple of years, but possibly for many decades ahead.”

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