The number of dead people on Facebook could outnumber the living within 50 years, according to analysis from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).
Based on 2018 user levels, at least 1.4 billion members will die before 2100, the researchers said. Using that estimate, the dead could outnumber the living on the social media platform by 2070.
However, if the network continues to grow at current rates, researchers say deceased users could reach as high as 4.9 billion before the end of the century.
"These statistics give rise to new and difficult questions around who has the right to all this data, how should it be managed in the best interests of the families and friends of the deceased and its use by future historians to understand the past," said lead author Carl Öhman, a doctoral candidate at the OII.
"Never before in history has such a vast archive of human behaviour and culture been assembled in one place," co-author David Watson, also a student at the OII, said. "Controlling this archive will, in a sense, be to control our history."
Facebook has recently taken steps to address the issues posed when users die.
It introduced some changes earlier this month to prevent the platform from upsetting their friends by encouraging them to invite the deceased to a party or wish them a “happy birthday.”