Between 2015 and 2017, Facebook will suffer a rapid decline of popularity and lose almost 80% of its user base, a report conducted by the Princeton Department of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering has found.
The researchers behind the report are using models of disease to help understand the adoption and then flight from online social networks. The report concluded that as users lose interest in the social network, their 'recovery' will become infectious amongst their peers, and the site will lose 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.
"In this paper we analyse the adoption and abandonment dynamics of OSNs [online social networks] by drawing analogy to the dynamics that govern the spread of infectious disease. The application of disease-like dynamics to OSN adoption follows intuitively, since users typically join OSNs because their friends have already joined," started the report.
"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models."
Using past case studies of social networks, including the rise and fall of Myspace, the researchers have predicted Facebook's demise with mathematical equations and search query data from Google.
"OSN users do not join an OSN expecting to leave after a predetermined amount of time. Instead, every user that joins the network expects to stay indefinitely, but ultimately loses interest as their peers begin to lose interest. Thus a user that joins early on is expected to stay on the network
longer than a user that joins later.
"Eventually, users begin to leave and recovery spreads infectiously as users begin to lose interest in the social network. The notion of infectious abandonment is supported by work analyzing user churn in mobile networks which show that users are more likely to leave the network if their contacts have left."
Read the full study here.