Facebook could become world's biggest virtual graveyard by 2098

The social network has 1.5 billion users world-wide

Faceook, virtual graveyard, statistician, Memorialized, account, deleted, Hachem Sadikki

File photo of the Facebook stand at the Web Summit in Dublin | Image: Niall Carson / PA Wire/Press Association Images

More people will be dead than alive on Facebook by the end of the century, according to a statistician.

The social network has 1.5 billion users world-wide.

A PhD student at the University of Massachusetts says it will turn into the world's biggest virtual graveyard by 2098.

Hachem Sadikki said he worked out the figure by assuming that Facebook growth will begin to slow soon.

He also assumed that the social media site will retain its existing policy on how to handle dead users.

Facebook has been criticised in the past for refusing to remove the pages of deceased users.

Currently, when a user dies the site does not delete the account. Instead, it turns the page into a "Memorialized'' version of the page.

Memorialized profiles do not appear in public spaces - such as in suggestions for 'People You May Know' or birthday reminders.

But no one can log into a memorialized account.

A legacy contact can also be appointed in advance - that is someone you choose to look after your account after you die.

However, Facebook says memorialized accounts that do not have a legacy contact cannot be changed.

The only way to delete the account of a deceased person is if somebody has their password and can login to close it down.

But some people who have died still appear as having birthdays in other users' news feeds, despite having passed away.