Facebook is being used more and more as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased, and keep their memory alive for posterity.
According to new research for Dying Matters, many British adults would not unfriend someone they know on Facebook – even after that person has died.
ComRes, a member of the British Polling Council surveyed over 2,085 adults living in the UK between the 15th and 17th April 2016.
Its dataset was weighted to be representative of all UK adults aged over 18.
The survey found that only 8 percent of people would unfriend their connection soon afterwards when someone they know on Facebook dies. 40 percent would maintain the friend connection.
The survey also found that 50 percent of people did not agree that Facebook is a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends.
26 percent of people thought it was a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends
21 percent thought that Facebook was the best way to share news of a terminal diagnosis beyond close friends and family. However 58 percent disagreed with the method.
Younger people are more likely to be comfortable sharing such news on Facebook than older Facebook users.
25 percent of Facebook users ages from 18-24-year-olds agreed that they would share that they knew they were dying on Facebook. This percentage rose to 31 percent for 25-34-year-olds.
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Interestingly, men are slightly more likely to unfriend someone on Facebook soon after that person’s death.
10 percent agreed that they would, compared with 7 percent of women.
The survey also shows that there are limits to what we are willing to share on Facebook.
Age plays a large factor in what we share online.
For example, only 11 percent of those over the age of 65 would inform their Facebook friends of their condition if the prognosis was terminal.
This research highlights that our willingness to share personal information such as diagnosed conditions, and areas relating to end of life will increase in the coming years.
After death, Facebook becomes a memorial to that person with friends and family contributing to memories of the deceased person.
James Norris of the Digital Legacy Association said “This shows how important Facebook is as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased.
That so few people would unfriend someone on Facebook after their death gives us a small indication as to the importance Facebook is providing into posterity.”