When, if ever, will Facebook contain much more profiles of dead civilization than of living ones?

Emily Dunham

Either the 2060s or the 2130s.

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There are not a the majority of dead people on Facebook. The main reasons because that this is that Facebook—and that is users—are young. The median Facebook user has gotten older end the last few years, but the website is still supplied at a much higher rate by the young than by the old.<1>There are a zillion surveys confirming this, such as this one from eMarketer.

The Past:

Based on the site's growth rate, and the age failure of their individuals over time,<2>You can get user counts for each period group indigenous Facebook's create-an-ad tool, back you might want to try to account for the fact that Facebook's age boundaries cause some civilization to lie around their ages. There are more than likely 10 come 20 million world who developed Facebook profiles who have since died.

These world are, in ~ the moment, spread out out quite evenly across the period spectrum. Young human being have a much lower death rate than people in your sixties or seventies, yet they make up a comprehensive share of the dead on facebook simply since there have been so plenty of of them using it.

The Future:

About 290,000 united state Facebook users will dice (or have died) in 2013. The worldwide total because that 2013 is likely several million.<3>Note: In several of these projections, I provided US age/usage data extrapolated to the facebook userbase as a whole, since it's easier to find US census and also actuarial numbers than to assemble the country-by-country because that the entirety Facebook-using world. The us isn't a perfect design of the world, yet the basic dynamics—young people's Facebook fostering determines the site's success or fail while population growth continues for a while and then levels off—will most likely hold about true. If we assume a fast Facebook saturation in the developing world, which right now has a faster-growing and also younger population, it shifts countless of the landmarks through a grasp of years, but doesn't readjust the overall snapshot as lot as you might expect. In simply seven years, this fatality rate will certainly double, and also in seven more years the will dual again.

Even if facebook closes registration tomorrow, the number of deaths per year will proceed to grow for plenty of decades, together the generation who remained in college in between 2000 and 2020 grow old.


The deciding variable in when the dead will certainly outnumber the life is whether on facebook adds brand-new living users—ideally, young ones—fast enough to outrun this birds of death for a while.

Facebook 2100:

This brings us to the question of Facebook's future.

We don't have sufficient experience with social networks come say with any type of kind the certainty how long Facebook will certainly last. Most websites have actually flared up and then gradually decreased in popularity, therefore it's reasonable to i think Facebook will follow the pattern.<4>I'm assuming, in this cases, the no data is ever deleted. For this reason far, that's to be a reasonable assumption; if you've made a on facebook profile, that data most likely still exists, and most world who stop using a service don't bother to delete your profile. If that habits changes, or if on facebook performs a fixed purging of your archives, the balance could adjust rapidly and unpredictably.

In the scenario, wherein Facebook starts losing sector share later on this decade and never recovers, Facebook's crossover date—the day when the dead outnumber the living—will come sometime around 2065.


But perhaps it won't. Probably it will certainly take top top a role like the TCP protocol, where it i do not care a item of infrastructure on which various other things are built, and has the inertia that consensus.

If on facebook is v us for generations, climate the crossover date could be as late together the mid-2100s.


That seems unlikely. Nothing lasts forever, and also rapid change has to be the norm for anything developed on computer technology. The soil is littered through the bones of websites and also technologies the seemed choose permanent establishments ten year ago.

It's feasible the reality can be what in between.<5>Of course, if there's a sudden rapid rise in the fatality rate of facebook users—possibly one that has humans in general—the crossover could happen tomorrow. We'll just need to wait and find out.

The fate of our accounts:

Facebook can afford to save all our pages and data indefinitely. Living customers will always generate an ext data 보다 dead ones, and the accounts for active users space the ones the will should be conveniently accessible. Even if accounts because that dead (or inactive) people make increase a bulk of their users, the will most likely never include up to a huge part of their as whole infrastructure budget.

More vital will it is in our decisions. What do we want because that those pages? unless we need that facebook deletes them, they will certainly presumably, by default, keep duplicates of everything forever. Also if lock don't, various other data-vacuuming establishments will.

Right now, next-of-kin can transform a dead person's on facebook profile into a memorial page. Yet there room a many questions surrounding passwords and access to personal data that us haven't yet arisen social standards for. Should accounts stay accessible? What should be made private? must next-of-kin have the best to accessibility email? should memorial pages have actually comments? exactly how do we take care of trolling and vandalism? Should people be allowed to interact with dead user accounts? What list of friends must they show up on?

These are worries that we're currently in the process of sorting the end by trial and error. Death has always been a big, difficult, and also emotionally fee subject, and also every society finds various ways to manage it.

The simple pieces that comprise a person life don't change. We've always eaten, learned, grown, collapse in love, fought, and died. In every place, culture, and technical landscape, we construct a different collection of behaviors about these same activites.

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Like every group that came prior to us, we're learning just how to beat those same games on our certain playing field. We're developing, through occasionally messy trial and error, a brand-new set the social standards for dating, arguing, learning, and growing on the internet. Sooner or later, we'll number out just how to mourn.