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Facebook Is a Plague That'll Burn Out In a Few Years, Says Study 338

Posted by timothy
from the world-market-is-for-maybe-5-computers dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook will bleed the majority of its users over the next three years, according to Princeton researchers John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, who arrived at that conclusion by comparing Facebook to an infectious disease. That's sort of logical: both Facebook and viruses depend on networks of human beings to "transmit" and grow; and just as people shake off viruses, they should (according to the theory, at least) eventually stop using Facebook. But how do a bunch of determined scientists actually trace Facebook's theoretical rise and fall? Cannarella and Spechler decided to use the frequency with which "Facebook" is typed into Google as their main dataset (various other studies have also relied on Google Trends as the basis for predictions). Those search queries reached a peak in December 2012. The researchers took that dataset and plugged it into prebuilt model for the spread of infectious disease (PDF), tweaked things a bit, and found that Facebook—like any plague that's burned through a significant portion of a population—will decline before the decade is out. Seem unlikely? To be fair, the researchers ran the term 'MySpace' through their model and found it traced that social network's rise and fall with some accuracy; but Facebook is much larger than MySpace at its peak, and woven much more pervasively throughout the fabric of the Web—thousands of Websites rely on the Network That Zuckerberg Built to connect with users, advertise, sell products, and much more. That prevalence alone should slow any Facebook decline. In addition, Facebook has begun releasing standalone apps such as Messenger, as part of a broader strategy to expand the company's branding and functionality beyond its core Website. Whether or not you like this theory that Facebook will 'burn out' has any validity, it's clear the social network is trying to mutate."
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Facebook Is a Plague That'll Burn Out In a Few Years, Says Study

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  • Not a great study (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maestro485 (1166937) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:39PM (#46049919)
    This "study" is mostly bullshit. This article sums it up nicely: []
  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:53PM (#46050153)

    If anything, Facebook will contract to an identity service provider used by web sites such as and The Huffington Post to verify that each account is associated to one real person.

    It might do that, but even teens are starting to realize that Facebook provides way too much information to be uses as an identity service provider.

    Still THIS particular study seems a bit flaky, because it was done by looking for the frequency that "Facebook" appears in Google searches (which presumably includes simply entering "" in the Chrome address bar, which some people still insist results in a search.)

    With Facebook ALREADY being the home page of the addicted, and with a Facebook app on just about every mobile device, not many people have to search for Facebook, as it is already at their fingertips. According to Alexa statistics [], 99.28% of visitors arrive directly at the site, and only 7.7% arrived from Google. This just screams "Browser Home Page".

    Decline in search results might not be indicative of decline in usage. (Unfortunately).

  • not so fast (Score:4, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:56PM (#46050187) Homepage
    The assumption that Facebook will decline in the medium term is challenged by the examples of other networks which became pervasive enough that they became effectively perpetual (at least until disrupted by outside forces). The telephone network, the Interstate highway system, and the power grid have all held on and show no signs of going away (even as the telephone network merges with the internet). Oh yeah: and the internet.

    As for the trend of a decline in googling for "facebook", that could just as easily reflect the fact that fewer people need to search for it. Either they've bookmarked it, it's their home page, their browser is smart enough to do URL completion, or it's perpetually at the top of their history, so they never hit Google on the way to it.

    Don't get me wrong: Facebook will go away at some point, just like the phone system and Interstates will fade away before humanity does. But projections that it is already in decline (or trending toward that inflection point) may be premature.
  • by Urkki (668283) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:23PM (#46050563)

    But G+ does not have my friends there, nor does it have an official app for my phone (and I'm not about to enter my Google credientals on some 3rd party app). I don't see it really taking off until Google stops using it as marketing ploy.

    Of course they may also shut it down any time with a warning of a few months, even if it seems a remote possibility now...

  • Re:Like LinedIN? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:59PM (#46051597)

    I was corrected. "LinkedIN isn't like Facebook where you get posts of cats."

    And he explained that they did ALL recruiting from LinkedIN.

    My head assploded wondering why THEY were at a job fair, but never the less, I created my LinkedIN profile - sweet as honey - with my Github projects.

    During settling an estate, my Lawyer sent me an invitation to join LinkedIn. Not likeing social sites, but thinking it might help in a timely settlement, I went to their site to join. All was going swimmingly until we got to the part where tehy demanded my email account name and passwords. That's right, they want you to buy into them raiding your address book.

    Aside from being a TOS violation, it's become a big pain in the ass. SIG's that I do keep getting invitiations to join LinkedIn. Then I get complaints from people in the groups.

    Linkedin is a "service" to be avoided at all costs.

  • by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:33PM (#46051911)

    Does anybody else... not dislike facebook? To be honest, I don't get why it's so in vogue to declare one's hatred for facebook.

    Speaking for myself, I have no issue with social networking itself. It's the company's relentless assault on privacy, and in particular, its practice of retroactively weakening the respect for privacy in its of terms of service, that keeps me away.

  • Re:Like LinedIN? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darren_Duncan (624945) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:35AM (#46053759) Homepage
    LinkedIn does *not* demand email accounts or address books. They may give you the option to import such, but you can easily say 'no' and use LinkedIn without such. I did that with my account.
  • Re:I'll be happy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Patch86 (1465427) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:02AM (#46054901)

    Not that peculiar when you consider Firefox's default behaviour if you type an invalid URL in the address bar is to run a Google search for the term. So if someone types "Google" in the address bar (but without the ".com"), it would count as a Google search for "Google".

    Still not exactly bright user behaviour, but not quite as stupid (and considerably more believable) than people visiting the Google website and then searching for the keyword "Google"...

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.