You know those moments when you roll your eyes and half-joke to your girlfriends that Facebook is a social disease? As it turns out, that’s exactly what it is — at least, according to researchers. John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler of Princeton University compare the social network to a plague. Its rapid growth in popularity is similar to the spread of an infectious disease, and researchers predict it will eventually die out just like a bad strain of flu. The pair made use of equations that are meant to track the growth and recovery of epidemics, and used it to gauge Facebook’s success. To make sure the numbers lined up, they tested those same equations on the long-dead MySpace. The researchers found that the formula matches MySpace’s rise and subsequent plummet to total obscurity, which means their predictions for Facebook just may be spot-on.
The “die-out” of a social media trend, according to their findings, happens when we become immune to the novelties and ideas of the site. Previous research has shown that fresh ideas spread among people like a disease, but when the challenge and excitement wears off, the concepts lose their energy. People don’t feel inspired by the idea anymore and, as a result, don’t put it into action. In this case, that means the methods of communicating that social media sites offer. Thus, the hypothetical death of Facebook. In fact, the folks at Princeton insist the site will lose 80 percent of its users by 2017, which pretty damn soon! RIP. Or something.
Honestly, this is tough to conceive of. Even though the science behind the prediction seems insanely accurate, I just can’t fathom a world without Facebook – and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t love the site all too much! When I think of Mark Zuckerberg and friends, I picture people who will fight tooth and nail to keep Facebook hanging by a thread until the very end, clinging to whatever popularity it can manage to maintain. Only time will tell! [Gizmodo]