News Column

Facebook Is Like a Disease, Researchers Say

January 24, 2014

Facebook 'faces 80% user decline'
Mercury, The (South Africa) (Published: 24-Jan 2014 4:40 AM, Received: 4:40:42 AM)
Word Count: 284
NEW YORK: Facebook is like an infectious disease, experiencing a spike before its decline, according to US researchers who claim the social network will lose 80 percent of users by 2017.

Two doctoral candidates in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University made their astonishing claims in a paper published online at a scientific research archive, but at present not yet peer-reviewed.

Based on the rise and fall of MySpace, John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler write that Facebook, the largest online social network in history, is set for a massive fall.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models."

They applied a modified such model to describe the dynamics of user activity of online social networks, using Google data publicly available.

If accurate, it will make uncomfortable reading for the social media giant co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg, which has more than 1.1 billion users and turns 10 years old next month.

Their study said Facebook, whose shares climbed to a new high of $58.51 (R641) this week, has been in decline in terms of data usage since 2012.

"Facebook is expected to undergo rapid decline in the upcoming years, shrinking to 20 percent of its maximum size by December 2014," said the report to peers at

"Extrapolating into the future suggests Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017."

But at least for now, Facebook's fortunes are in good health. Zuckerberg, 29, has a personal fortune estimated at about $19 billion. - Sapa-AFP

The Mercury

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Original headline: Facebook 'faces 80% user decline'

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