It's macabre for a company to exploit data on the departed (or solicit data on the deceased). Social media may end up as the modern human's unintended mausoleum, but without any form of legislation, people's likeness and past life may become intellectual properties of exploitative private companies.
What should happen to a social media account when the user dies? The most logical course of action is to hand it over to the user's estate or next of kin. It that absence, it is either destroyed after a period of time, like a decade or so, or turn it over to some sort of “custodian of historical records” (which should be a government entity) – and be made publicly accessible by virtue of existing laws on information access.
This is yet another indication that lawmakers are falling behind technology and cultural change.
(TIME) — On Facebook, the dead will eventually outnumber the living. What does that mean for our histories?
The dead will outnumber the living on Facebook, according to a study whose authors want us to think more about our digital histories.
The phenomenon could take place within the next 50 years, though will likely take longer, according to a research paper from the University of Oxford Internet Institute published April 23 in the journal Big Data & Society. The study’s authors, Carl J. Öhman and David Watson, used a combination of data, including projected mortality and population rates from the U.N. as well as Facebook’s user growth over time. It may take a little longer than 50 years to reach the tipping point, the authors admit — that calculation assumes Facebook’s user growth stopped after 2018, but the company continues to grow. Still, it’s likely to happen “in the first decades of the 22nd century,” they say.