Facebook posted a satirical rebuttal to a Princeton University study that claimed the social network will lose 80 percent of its users by 2017. Facebook researchers used a similar methodology to prove Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and no students at all by 2021.
The Princeton University study about Facebook looked at Google Trends queries for "Facebook" over time, compared those figures with similar statistics for MySpace, and concluded that Facebook had already begun a decline.
Facebook fired back on Thursday: "In keeping with the scientific principle 'correlation equals causation,' our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely." Researchers Mike Develin, Lada Adamic, and Sean Taylor looked at trends for likes on Princeton's Facebook page, Google Scholar queries, and Google Trends statistics to predict Princeton's demise.
Get a good look while it lasts.
This trend suggests that Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.
While we are concerned for Princeton University, we are even more concerned about the fate of the planet -- Google Trends for "air" have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left.
The post concludes:
Although this research has not yet been peer-reviewed, every Like for this post counts as a peer review. Start reviewing!
P.S. We don’t really think Princeton or the world’s air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air). As data scientists, we wanted to give a fun reminder that not all research is created equal -- and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.
TechCrunch's Josh Constine called the Princeton study "flawed throughout." Comparison with MySpace is problematic, because MySpace was killed by Facebook, Constine says, adding:
But the critical error in the non-peer-reviewed study is stating that since the volume of searches for “Facebook” began declining in 2012, it must mean there’s an ongoing decline in Facebook usage.
Yeah, no. Back in Facebook’s web heyday around 2007, many people did surf to the social network by searching for “Facebook” or “Facebook login.” But then this thing called mobile came along and people started getting to Facebook by opening an app, not searching for a website. So searches for “Facebook” declining doesn’t prove much considering over half of Facebook’s traffic now comes from mobile. Since 2012 Facebook has kept growing to its current 1.19 billion users, and it has never had an overall decline in user count.
I wouldn't dismiss the Princeton research. But I wouldn't accept it blindly, either. It's an intriguing hypothesis and nothing more -- for now. Ask me about it again in a year.
Yes Taimur. Facebook's recommendation system is a good example of how analytics are used to suggest people the things that they are most interested in and are expected to respond too hence increasing the overall user engagement on the website.
Kim, then I believe it is a lack of control that people affiliated with e university are using university's name and the university is not expected to own the material published. I am sure Princeton's management would reconsider this approach and so would every reputable university that is aware of this.
Kim, then I believe it is a lack of control that people affiliated with the university are using university's name and the university is not expected to own the material published. I am sure Princeton's management would reconsider this approach and so would every reputable university that is aware of this.
Kim, I agree, or somehow determine a business application. It's hard out there for those only in the consumer side.
Still, I type all of this as though Facebook is some huffing and puffing also-ran. No company is immune to competion, especially emerging competition, but Facebook's days right now are hardly numbered.
Facebook disappearing by 2017 seems a little farfetched. The basis of the Princeton research doesn't seem very convincing to me. Considering the way Facebook has evolved over time, by bringing in multiple features like Timeline, games etc., which it still continues to do, the chances of it vanishing into thin air seem slim to me.
Brian, I think the new question for Facebook is how to monetize Instagram, a service which is mobile through and through. I still think a subscription model might work--especially if it's subscriptions for business pages rather than individuals.
The increased cases of fraudsters and scammers on social sites, facebook included, will result o slowdown on facebook activities. The security of data on facebook is wanting especially with ignorant persons. Scammers are masquerade facebook and fleecing people hence discouraging many people. However, this does not mean that the company might lose 80% of its users as stated by the research conducted by Princeton University.
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