Life without Facebook! After you're done imagining this incredibly dismal hypothetical situation, let the research from a pair of Princeton researchers introduce the reality of the idea. Research shows that Facebook will undergo a serious decline between 2015 and 2017 before it is completely eradicated.
The study compares Facebook to an infectious disease, and it hypothesizes that the popular social networking site will lose about 80% of its users between 2015 and 2017. Like a disease, the popularity will likely peak before its sharp decline after people recover.
John Canarlda and Joshua A Spechler are behind the theory and published a document, citing a few examples from the past, most notably, Myspace.
The study uses systems like Google Trends to track the websites' popularity, even creating an algorithm that suggests Facebook's popularity and expansion mirrors the infection and spread of a disease.
"Having validated the irSIR model of OSN dynamics on Google data for search query Myspace, we then applied the model to the Google data for search query Facebook. Extrapolating the best fit model into the future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017" concludes the document.
Other experts, however, have responded back and criticized the study. First criticism levied is that Myspace did not get abandoned because users "recovered" from it. Instead, Facebook is what killed off Myspace. Therefore, the use of Myspace as an analogy does not fit the infectious disease model.
Facebook itself even came out with an article that mocks the study and says that it confuses "correlation with causation." They apparently follow the same analysis used by the Princeton crew and conclude that Princeton will not have any more students by 2021.
"In keeping with the scientific principle 'correlation equals causation,'" Facebook jokes, "our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely."