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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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  • I'll be happy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:19PM (#46049659)

    ..when it's finally gone /first

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:20PM (#46049663) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:23PM (#46049703)

    Frienster > Myspace > Facebook > SpaceFace > [and so on] ...

  • Mom rule (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:27PM (#46049747)

    My 70 year old mother uses Facebook.

    Once a technology reaches that level of integration into society, it, or at least the core product benefit, will be with us forever.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:27PM (#46049751) Homepage Journal

    "Cannarella and Spechler decided to use the frequency with which "Facebook" is typed into Google as their main dataset"

    This is probably too obvious of a hole to poke in a scientific work, but... How do they know that it doesn't mean that users are either a) giving up using Google or b) remembering where the fuck to find It would be interesting if they tried the same trick on GMail (a service that grew fast from word of mouth but is decidedly not in decline last i checked) and see what their prediction says.

  • All things end (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monoman (8745) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:30PM (#46049789) Homepage

    When the parents and grandparents start using it the "kids" tend to move elsewhere. Eventually the parents and grandparents follow. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Re:Mom rule (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:36PM (#46049885)

    Still listens to music (CDs), eats butter, and yes, has an electric bed warmer. (Canada, it's cold here)

  • AOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrAlt (3208) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:38PM (#46049911) Homepage Journal

    My grandparents had AOL.My parents had AOL. Everyone I knew had at least an AIM account. Where is AOL/AIM now?

  • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:41PM (#46049961)

    I never type or search it. I click the app icon on my phone. Seems their number coincide very much with the popularity growth of smart phones.

    These people should focus on other studies. This is a waste of time for anybody to read.

  • Re:any research (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unrtst (777550) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:46PM (#46050039)

    There's a glaring flaw, directly related to the old phrase, "There are 3 types of lies; Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics".
    They're basing the trend on the frequency of the string "facebook" being typed into Google search.
    In 2012, they saw the peak.
    Guess what? People use smart phones A LOT more, and they use the various facebook apps, and when one wants a facebook app, they search the relevant app store (iTunes, Google Play, etc).

    My money would bet that smart phone use covers the dip on the search trend, but even if it doesn't fully cover it, it's got to play a part, which would (almost certainly) tarnish their results (maybe it still will die, but it'll just take 3x's as long as they thought due to bad assumptions made about the google trend numbers).

    It'll probably still die someday, for some loose definition of die (is geocities still around?)

  • Re:I'll be happy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Garridan (597129) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:01PM (#46050239)
    Don't get your hopes up. I've got a different theory: people have stopped using google to find / research facebook. Those who use facebook use it more than they use the rest of the internet -- they don't need to find it, it's the first thing their browser opens. Those who don't use it already know what it is. No need to google it.
  • Like LinedIN? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:03PM (#46050275)

    I went to a job fair recently.

    I was told that they weren't taking resumes there, but asked if I had a LinkedIN profile.

    When I expressed that I didn't because I don't like social networks, 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. No bites. No one even looks at them even though they are listed on my profile and resume. So mush for FOSS helping with hiring! NOTE: Github shows interest in projects and there are NO - zero- nothing - records of folks looking at my FOSS projects. I mean, WTF do I have to do?"

    That wasn't what I was thinking of because LinkedIN pimps out their data - EVERYTHING is sold.

    I created a profile because I need a job and as a peon, I have to conform and do what I need to do.

    Of course, all these companies are looking for "out of the box thinkers" and folks who "do not conform to group think".

    AND, the few recruiters who do contact me ONLY look at my current experience. They NEVER look past experience - which is ALL development. And now that I'm not working again, nothing. As soon as my profile showed an end date for my current job - and no begin date for a new one - nothing.

    Unemployed means unemployable.

    ANY and EVERY employer who says that they can't find qualified people is full of shit. And I'm moving on.

    Payback is a bitch boys.

    One day, I WILL be in a position to outsource IT (development same shit) services, and when I need IT folks, just wait. Just wait assholes. Just wait. IBM, NCR, Oracle, intel, Microsoft, EDS, Keane, .....just wait. Payback is a bitch!

    Excuse me MR. Overpriced IT services corp, why should I go through you - a Third World talent reseller - and NOT hire Wipro or some other company that is actually based in the country YOU exploit? Hmmmm?!

    Fuck you! That's why!

    Can you GUARANTEE your date? Like Oracle DIDN'T for Oregon's Health system?! NO?! FUCK YOU! That's why!

    Cock suckers! All of them!

  • Do you need more? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:17PM (#46050469) Journal

    It needs no more than being a ubiquitous water cooler. What is compelling about FB is that it's a stream of consciousness of your friends and relatives. You can leave it for a while and come back and you haven't really "missed" anything. It's the many-to-many with no programming, scripting, or other aggregator that makes it useful to everyone.

    Here's what makes it special: you get to stay in touch with people you wouldn't normally stay in touch with, or even want to necessarily. WTF is that about? I have quite a few friends on FB - old (like HS) and new (just met at a class) - with whom I share enough common ground to get through half a beer in a bar before the uncomfortable silence sets in. With FB, I don't lose those friends to the physical and temporal distance which separates us - instead, I pick up bits and pieces they like to share about how their lives are going. As a result, an old 1/2 beer friend recently visited town, but we polished off an entire pitcher because we knew enough about one another - after 20 years of not seeing each other - that we had several things in common. I might keep up with 15-20 people, tops, but through facebook I actually still feel connected to a couple hundred. Not everybody journals, and of those, I'm not going to go to 200 separate pages, and even if I did, the interactive nature just isn't there.

  • Re: Mom rule (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mashiki (184564) < minus physicist> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:23PM (#46050571) Homepage

    Actually, you'll find that most teenagers are using other services and bailing from FB because it's what "the adults around them use." And no teenager wants mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles looking over their shoulder.

  • Decline of Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:10PM (#46051055) Homepage

    I think that it's at least as likely that this signals a decline of Google instead. When I searched "trends" recently for things like "algebra" and "math help" it seemed liked the searches for even those fairly eternal subjects were trailing off in recent years. Comparing Google to Facebook, it seems that Google's the one that's flailing around more recently, with farts like G+, canceled projects, draconian merging of accounts, etc.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <[justinglobal] [at] []> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:40PM (#46051381) Homepage Journal

    yeah this research is virtually worthless...they make an increasingly common mistake of taking an analogy that indicates correlation, namely: "humans usage of networks is similar to viral infection of cells" and treat it as if it is some sort of physics law that is applicable in all ways. It's lazy research!

    besides their bad analogy resulting in a bad research question, they didn't gather any data, they just ran some crosstabs on an existing data set...THIS data set, FTA:

    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).

    to see if usage of '' "dies" like viruses die, you examine numbers of people who close their accounts. the worst is the part in parenthesis...sure there are times when number of google searches correlates well with popularity or usage, but its such a ridiculously tenuous connection & it doesn't matter how many other studies have used similar data sets. is not like a plague in one key way, people *want* its functionality just not its privacy invasion and lack of control.

    to properly do this study, they can still let it 'spread' virally...but the virus analogy breaks down there...they need to have another factor that is a **REPLACEMENT NETWORK** that spreads in its place

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai