Comparing It to an Infectious Disease, Researchers Predict Facebook Will Lose 80% of Its Users by 2017

bacteria illustration

bacteria illustration

Have you ever wondered if (or when) Facebook will go the way of Myspace and lose its tight grasp on society? Researchers at Princeton University seem to think this will happen quite soon.

By comparing the spread of Facebook to that of an infectious disease, John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler found that Facebook is likely to lose 80% of its user base by 2017.

“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” Cannarella and Spechler claim in a paper modeling online social network dynamics after health epidemics. Ideas are spread, the authors reason, when people communicate. If people lost interest in an idea (in other words, become immune to it), they will stop talking about it. Thus the idea (in this case, Facebook) will stop spreading.

The researchers used the SIR (susceptible, infected, recovered) model of disease for their study and tested various equations against the lifespan of Myspace before analyzing Facebook. Myspace was founded in 2003 and reached its peak in 2007 with 300 million registered users, according to the Guardian. Facebook turns 10 on February 4 and recently announced nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users in October.

Even Facebook’s chief financial officer David Ebersman admitted that Facebook saw a decrease in daily users, especially among younger teens. Recently we reported that the recent Global Web Index shows that overall Facebook usage has dropped by 3% in the last six months.

Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook?

Illustration by NIAID

Lauren Mobertz

By Lauren Mobertz

Lauren is the former managing editor for DashBurst. One part geek, one part urban nomad, she is constantly scouting for the latest tech and world news. In the evenings you'll find Lauren running in strange places or attempting to dance salsa.