tech2 News StaffJan 24, 2014 08:20:19 IST
Can Facebook be compared to an infectious disease? A new study thinks the best way to chart the growth and fall of online social networks is to compare them to how diseases spread.
And researchers from Princeton University's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering predict that Facebook is fighting a losing battle. The world’s biggest social network’s growth has been pegged for a rapid decline within the next few years and the researchers claim it will lose up to 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.
The research is yet to be peer reviewed, so the findings will likely change after other experts weigh in. Researchers used models of how diseases spread along with publicly available Google search query data on Facebook and the likes, to figure out exactly how social networks grow and die. "Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people, before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models," the research states.
For this study, they considered joining Facebook as the onset of disease and leaving the social network as recovery. As recovery spreads, other users begin to leave the social network, just like Myspace, the study argues. Myspace, which reached its peak user base in 2008, died out in 2011, when it was sold at a loss for $35 million.
Researchers claim Facebook has already reached the peak of its popularity and recent reports about the teen exodus from the site seem to corroborate their assessment that it has entered a decline phase. And while a epidemiological model may not exactly be the best counterpane to study online social networks against, one cannot argue against the face that the idea of leaving Facebook has suddenly become appealing to millions of users. Whether Facebook can indeed fight this recovery and continue its spread, depends on the various moves the company takes to tackle the exodus. For now, though, the rate of infection has certainly fallen.
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