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by Alec Sharratt on 2nd April 2012
The mortality rate for the world as an average, according to Wikipedia, is around 0.95%. But what does this mean and why am I telling you? Well, something occurred to me the other day which promoted some impromptu digging on the net. It turns out that when someone passes away, it is possible to inform Facebook and turn their account / page into a tribute page. A little morbid, I know but bear with me… one should consider that this will only be done in a percentage of cases.
The Social Media Graveyard
The implications of this are that, given the current mortality rate, roughly 6,175,000 Facebook pages will be tributes or (excuse the morose pun) dead pages every year. Meaning that in 25 years around 24% of the current population of Facebook will be “inactive” profiles or tributes. To extrapolate further, if Facebook does not grow its members by more than 0.95% of the human population per year, there will be a tipping point when the majority of Facebook profiles will be “inactive”.
This will create a virtual graveyard for Facebook profiles.
A New Record of Our Ancestors
If we want to know what it was like in Victorian times, we can read books, look at early black and white photos and drawings by artists of the time. Moving forwards though, we are all actively creating a record or timeline of our lives. When people in the future look back at their great granddad, it won’t be a stern looking gentleman posing politely for the camera in his Sunday best… No, it will be a montage of images ranging from being semi conscious and slumped against a wall to mobile phone photos of them dancing at festivals.
It’s an odd thought to think that, should I ever have any, my grandchildren need not know me to be able to see how I lived, what I liked, what I said and to whom. This raises other bizarre thoughts; how much of what is on your Facebook page is really you. I mean, there is no field on the information page for character flaws; generally speaking people summarise themselves to be well rounded individuals who “enjoy reading, socialising and films”.
We don’t add our enemies on Facebook, and generally, if you dislike someone you won’t interact with them either. The result of this biased, sugar coated image that we construct for ourselves will nearly always only show people what we want them to see.
I wonder how this new record of our history will shape the view that our successors have of us today.
Advertising to the Deceased
What will Facebook do with dormant profiles; I can’t imagine them removing them and risk angering millions of their users. What with the increase in processing and storage capacities in hard drives, I also doubt whether they would need to remove them. Could this mean that advertisers in 25 years will be faced with the odd prospect of having a 25% chance of advertising to people who, ahem, will never buy their products?
I have seen people create Facebook pages for their unborn children, setting the ultra sound image as a profile picture. If Facebook remains popular, this will eventually lead to an incredibly detailed history of one’s life from pre-birth to post-life. Would you like to be remembered best for your Facebook page? And would you change anything about your online profile knowing that may be what happens? Please share your thoughts below.
Alec Sharratt will be writing about his passion; the technical aspects of search. Well experienced within the IT industry, Alec has bags of knowledge on everything technical from simple spreadsheets that will save you hours right up to news and tips to make search that little bit easier.