by Mark Prigg, Daily Mail
January 24, 2014 (TSR) – Facebook is heading for a catastrophic decline and could lose 80% of its users by 2015, researchers warned today.
The team from Princeton claim the social networking site spread ‘like an infectious diseases.’
The predict its ‘decline phase’ has already begun – and will be swift.
The researchers first analysed the rise and fall of MySpace to prove their theory could accurately predict the fall of a social network.
They then analysed Google searches from Facebook, and say the results were very similar.
‘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,’ they said.
‘The site has ‘already reached the peak of its popularity and has entered a decline phase.’
To explain why social networks are like infectious diseases, the study pointed to similar research done with ideas.
‘Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological model,’ they say.
‘Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of “immunity” to the idea.‘
However, the researcher admit their study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Facebook, which currently boasts 874 million users worldwide, would certainly object to being compared to a viral epidemic.
But the company itself admitted in October to losing teen users.
Over 11m teenagers and college students have left Facebook since 2011, an analyst claimed earlier this week.
Digital consultancy iStrategy Labs released a study it says uses data from Facebook’s own Social Advertising platform to come up with the shocking figures.
Experts believe that young people are increasingly abandoning the site to turn to apps such as WhatsUp, Snapchat and others.
According to iStrategy, Facebook has 4,292,080 fewer high-school aged users and 6,948,848 college-aged users than it did in 2011.
Late last year Facebook shares went on a 24 hour rollercoaster after the company’s chief financial officer admitted that teenagers are losing interest in the site.
Shares in the social network soared around 15 per cent to $57.98 (£36.16) following the site’s latest quarterly earnings announcement, before suddenly failing to $47.40.
The dip was attributed to comments made by Facebook’s chief financial officer David Ebersman about a decline in teenagers using the social network site.
‘We did see a decrease in daily users, especially younger teens,’ said Ebersman on a conference call with analysts, although added: ‘Our best analysis of youth engagement in the U.S reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S teens overall was stable.’
Facebook did not release official figures about the current number or users who are teenagers or how substantial this drop was.
Another recent study found teenagers are turning away from Facebook because of oversharing friends and concerns over their parents knowing what they are up to.
It found they are turning to Twitter and services like Snapchat in increasing numbers – where they are sharing more personal information about themselves than ever before.
Researchers found a big increase in the number of ‘selfies’ being posted, along with information about their school, city and even their mobile phone number.
Teens told researchers there were too many adults on Facebook and too much sharing of teenage angst and inane details like what a friend ate for dinner.
‘The key is that there are fewer adults, fewer parents and just simply less complexity and less drama,’ said Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center, one of the study’s authors.
‘They still have their Facebook profiles, but they spend less time on them and move to places like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.’
To read the Princeton University Research study (pdf).
First published in Daily Mail.