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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