See what's on at The Drum

Could Facebook lose 80% of its users by 2017? Princeton thinks so as it compares the platform to an infectious disease

Researchers at Princeton University have predicted that 80 per cent of users will leave Facebook by 2017.

The research compared the use of social media platforms to the ‘spread of infectious disease’: "Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models.

"Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of 'immunity' to the idea."

Princeton looked at searches for MySpace over its period of growth and decline, and compared this to searches on Facebook, summarising: “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 per cent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.”

This is revealed in the same week as a GlobalWebIndex study from Q4 2013 suggested “reports of ‘the death of Facebook’ have been greatly exaggerated”.

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy