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

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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  • Viruses Burn Out? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:27PM (#46049749) Homepage

    Kind of like how the flu season peaked in February 2013, and now there will never be big flu outbreaks again.

  • Facebook vs. MySpace (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ffejie ( 779512 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:55PM (#46050171)
    The summary alludes to this, but Facebook has done a much better job integrating into society than MySpace ever did at it's peak. At best, MySpace was a good place to go see about a new band. Facebook has built alliances (either officially, or just by use) with almost every major brand, and every company in the western world. This kind of branding will be held on to by corporations big and small, as they know it's a good way to reach users.

    What we could see happen is that users abandon the service to connect to real people, and only use it to connect to brands, because the brands are demanding it. Over time (several more years) the brands will likely deprioritize their presence on the network, because people don't engage with them the way they used to. Go watch a commercial break on TV right now, I bet that one of the ads uses as their website address. How insane is that? Snickers uses instead of! Why would you do this? Facebook limits the opportunities that brands have to engage, and yet brands have played right into it, because the network is so powerful.

    I do believe Facebook will live on as a way to authenticate and connect with other websites. It's a useful way to verify someone's real name, their social connections, and that they are a "good actor." See: many dating websites.
  • Re:I'll be happy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:27PM (#46050611)

    Not only that, but in the last two years, lots of smartphones have come out with a Facebook app as standard. Many people are using those rather than using a browser.

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

    by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:05PM (#46050983)
    It really floored me that last year the sixth most common search term in Google here in .fi was "google" (but yes, "facebook" was higher).
  • Re:I'll be happy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:08PM (#46051027)
    Scratch that, I remembered that wrong, it was even worse. "google" was fourth. But "facebook" was number one.
  • Re: I'll be happy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AudioEfex ( 637163 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @04:58AM (#46054419)
    OMG, I haven't posted here in years - you STILL have to manually separate paragraphs? Ugh. Let's try again. Particularly annoying on this mobile version I am on that doesn't have a preview.

    Yes, FB has a very robust internal search engine. I never used Google to search it to begin with - the thought never occurred to me. I use Google all the time, but when I want to search a specific website...I go to that site.

    All the doom and gloom about FB doesn't take into account one thing: for many of us, it's our address book. Hundreds of friends from college, high school, former work places - when I want to get in touch with someone I don't regularly communicate with, that is where I go. So even though I don't sit and read everyone's posts every day like I may have at one point, it's still an essential and valuable tool in my life (even if I just go to find someone's regular email or phone number). I cannot tell you how amazing that ability is.

    I needed a piece of art done for a cover of something I was publishing recently. I knew a girl I'm college who dated a good friend of mine. I happened to notice one day a year or so ago that she was doing custom art for people. When this project came up, I immediately thought of her because the style of art I needed was exactly what she was doing. I wrote her a FB message, and 24 hours later I had my cover, exactly how I envisioned it, and got it for free - and she got a credit for her resume. That would have never happened without FB, and things like that happen all the time.

    What is getting old are the Facebook haters. If you don't like it, don't use it. But seriously, STFU about it. You doth protest too much. If you say you are sick of reading mundane details about everyone's lives, stop fucking reading them. If you spend your time doing something you don't like, the only idiot is you.

    Facebook is an amazing TOOL, if you are using it strictly for entertainment good for you - but just because someone can't see beyond the "I had tuna salad for lunch today" or "I popped a really big zit - look at this!" posts, doesn't take away from the fact that used intelligently, it can be a very useful and ultimately gives us something that wasn't possible before it existed - a living address book of everyone we know. It's how you use it that determines if it's a god-send, or an utter waste of time.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry