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The Dead of #Facebook Could Outnumber the Living by 2065

It's a question that's been coming up more and more frequently in recent years - just what becomes of your Facebook profile after you die? Many accounts are memorialised, others are hijacked by people with no conscience, but increasingly, research is being done to figure out how to keep someone alive through their social media accounts. Sites like eterni.me boast that through lifelong collation of online data, they can create a kind of digital ghost, able to communicate actively with loved ones even after death.

In case you need any extra help figuring it out - yes, that's unbelievably creepy and wholly unnecessary, but social media advancements often seem to completely ignore public standpoint and just carry on unchecked. Another service - SafeBeyond - allows people to leave a info dump of pre-recorded messages, images and assets to be released after death when prompted.

Prompting can be anything from the funeral itself to a specific person going to a specific location. Say someone goes to Trafalgar Square, having originally visited it for the first time with their now deceased grandmother, suddenly a Facebook video pops up with a hitherto unseen message from her on that very subject.

I can't understand the appeal, but as time goes by, more and more attempts to retrofit social media as a means of immortality are cropping up, even going as far as coffins with a kind of highlight reel playing on a screen on the lid. Funeral selfies are a thing, status updates are read during farewell speeches, it's seeping into every aspect of passing on.

Writer and cartoonist Randal Monroe posited that by 2065, Facebook might be more populated with dead people than living ones, but with this kind of technology gaining ground, it's unlikely to be any quieter. As society develops, our relationship with death does too, there are new ways to say farewell and new ways to grieve, but could these new 'social media ghost' systems be characterised as a form of denial, or simply an active way of carrying on a memory? 

It's going to be a while before we really know for sure. Sites like eterni.me need years to compile the data necessary to build the post-mortem profile, and most of the people who sign up to these things are pretty young at the moment, and therefore fairly unlikely to die any time soon unless something really awful happens. Personally, I think it's pretty needless, but perhaps I'm just old fashioned, which at 25 is a fairly unpleasant thought. Rest assured that I won't be posting on anyone's wall after I go, if you see me doing so, call the police, or Ghostbusters.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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The Dead of #Facebook Could Outnumber the Living by 2065 Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, December 19, 2015 Rating: 5

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