FutureFive New Zealand logo
Story image

"Plagued" Facebook will die out by 2017...

24 Jan 2014

Facebook will be virtually wiped off the face of the earth by 2017, similar to infectious epidemics such as the bubonic plague.

That’s the outstanding view of Princeton University researchers in the US, which claims the social network has spread across the world like an infectious disease but now that we are becoming immune to its attractions, the service will soon die out.

Set to celebrate its 10th birthday on February 4 this year, the iconic social media giant has outlived rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, amassing nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users around the globe.

Yet despite the website’s overwhelming success, and seemingly cemented place in modern day culture, the revealing report claims 80% of its peak user base will cease to exist within three years.

“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” the report claims.

“Again, this follows intuitively, as ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other.

“Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of “immunity” to the idea.”

Spearheaded by researchers John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, the study looks at epidemiological models to explain user adoption and abandonment of Operating Social Networks (OSNs), where adoption is similar to infection and abandonment reflects recovery.

“Facebook presents an interesting case study as it is the largest OSN in history,” the study continues.

“Moreover, the search query data suggests that Facebook has already reached the peak of its popularity and has entered a decline phase, as evidenced by the downward trend in search frequency after 2012.”

Testing various equations centred on the lifespan of websites such as Myspace and Bebo, the paper used the SIR (susceptible, infected, recovered) model of disease, which creates equations to map the spread and recovery of epidemics.

But while the report offers intriguing results, many social media figures have questioned the credibility of the study, which is based on the Google Trends search service.

Over 870 million people now connect to Facebook directly via their smartphones each month, thus explaining the drop in Google searches, many say.

Will Facebook die off in three years? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below