A study carried out in April by Oxford University has revealed that the number of dead Facebook users could soon outnumber the living. Facebook has approximately 2.3 billion users but as users begin to die, the number of ‘dead’ profiles will increase.
The study anticipated that based on 2018 user levels at least 1.4 billion users will die before 2100 and that the number of dead could outnumber the living by 2070. For users today, it can be painful to receive a birthday or other event reminders through Facebook about those who have passed away.
So this begs the question – what happens to your account when you die? Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to avoid resurfacing on social media after you die. One option is to leave instructions to delete your account, along with your password and login details in your will.
Alternatively, you can make use of some of the features Facebook already has enabled for profiles of people who have died. These include electing a friend or relative as a “legacy” who can take over your Facebook profile after your death. The legacy contact is not able to post from your account or read your messages but they will be able to turn your profile into a “tribute” page. You can also request that Facebook deletes your profile after you die.
To enable the “legacy” feature go to Settings > Manage Account > Memorialisation settings Facebook has also recently announced s ome improvements and new systems that the social network will put in place for profiles of the deceased. “ These changes are the result of feedback we heard from people of different religions and cultural backgrounds as well as experts and academics,” said Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. “We’re grateful to them for helping us understand how we can build more tools to help people find comfort in times of grief.”
One of those features, which has long been sought after – means you will no longer be prompted to wish a deceased friend a ‘happy birthday’. It also won’t suggest you ‘invite’ a deceased friend to an event on the site.
There will also be improvements to the “legacy” feature mentioned above, which will give the contact more control over the page, including being able to choose who can post as well as what tagging of photos or status updates is allowed. “ This helps [the legacy contact] manage content that might be hard for friends and family to see if they’re not ready,” Sandberg said.