I have major philosophical differences with Facebook, but I seriously doubt it will be a virtual ghost town by 2017. But Princeton researchers, acting as social-media epidemiologists, disagree. So on the day that Sheryl Sandberg became a billionaire (was so pulling for her), some are predicting that the plague will soon be over. From Juliette Garside in the Guardian:
“Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but we are slowly becoming immune to its attractions, and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, say researchers at Princeton University.
The forecast of Facebook’s impending doom was made by comparing the growth curve of epidemics to those of online social networks. Scientists argue that, like bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually die out.
The social network, which celebrates its 10th birthday on 4 February, has survived longer than rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, but the Princeton forecast says it will lose 80% of its peak user base within the next three years.
John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, from the US university’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, have based their prediction on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term. The charts produced by the Google Trends service show Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since begun to trail off.
‘Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,’ the authors claim in a paper entitled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.”