Facebook, currently the world’s largest social network, rapidly took over the internet during the past decade, but it and will eventually die or fade away – just like an epidemic, according to a controversial Princeton University research.
“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out,” the paper said, citing the example of MySpace, which peaked in 2008 and then rapidly shrunk to almost nothing by 2011.
Using epidemiological models to determine and explain the life-cycles and trends of social media, the results predicted that Facebook will come to a quick end, losing a huge chunk of its users in the coming years.
“Extrapolating the best ?t 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,” the researchers concluded.
The study titled “Epidemiological modeling of online social networks dynamics,” caused quite a stir after it was released this month. One Facebook representative called the analysis “nonsense” and social media experts remained unimpressed by the findings, which are still in the process of being “peer-reviewed.”
However, recent shifts in online trends suggest the Princeton research – if not entirely accurate – might just be on the right track.
For instance, one of the world's biggest marketing communications brands and trend forecaster JWT argued, in its ninth annual report, how social media and technological developments have contributed to an individual’s isolation and how people are growing increasingly tired of it.
The paper predicted that 2014 will be the year when people will shun their technological distractions and focus on the more important things in life such as spending time with friends and family – or even with oneself for that matter.
Apart from these researches, certain trends of social networking sites also add to users’ lack of interest. Facebook is frequently criticized for its absurd and sometimes abrupt policy changes. The constant changes in the newsfeed and timeline often give users a headache, eventually forcing them to either become inactive or deactivate their accounts.
A significant drop among users in the United States and the United Kingdom was reported last year. 'Facebook fatigue' – a term used for having too many friends on the site – and the company’s sudden privacy changes were cited as possible reasons for users to quit the once most popular social media website.