Facebook on the verge of losing 80 percent of its users, say Princeton researchers

By on January 23, 2014, 1:00 PM
myspace, facebook, research, social network, users, members, princeton, disease, epidemic

If you’ve ever felt like Facebook is little more than an epidemic spreading through society like a contagious disease, you might not be too far off base. Researchers from Princeton University have ultimately reached the same grim diagnosis, believing that users will slowly become immune to its attraction and will eventually lose interest.

Researchers point out that like diseases, ideas have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out. Such ideas have been successfully described in the past using epidemiological models, which is what Princeton’s best are attempting to do here.

This line of thinking was applied to other failed social networks like MySpace and then to Facebook. If their model proves accurate, the social network will lose 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.

Of course, predicting the decline of Facebook is not exactly a new idea. We’ve been hearing for months that teen usage has been trending downward and these lucrative users are moving to other platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Teens no doubt have a short attention span but the fact that their parents (and even grandparents) are now using the site is often cited as one of the main reasons for the decline.

Earlier this week, research firm GlobalWebIndex found that it’s far too early to write the site off and there is still a strong presence of active users overall. Facebook is expected to report traffic figures to investors at the end of this month so we’ll have a more solid outlook at that point.




User Comments: 28

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mojorisin23 mojorisin23 said:

RIP FB... haven't logged in in months... usually just on my bday.

I use whats app. its instantaneous and has no adds or crap.

Guest said:

Already gone...

1 person liked this | wastedkill said:

Guessing the world also ends in 2015 like these guys also predicted, princeton people always looking for that 15minute fame just like the mayans.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

+1 for FB-RIP

Guessing the world also ends in 2015 like these guys also predicted.
Not according to Bill Gates 2034 prediction. lol

Guest said:

No, no, no. Facebook won't lose if the company and leadership adapt to change. However, if they fail to recognize shifting sands and adapt.

3 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

The only way FB would go away is if people are using something else instead. What will that be, Google+? unless there's a replacement, FB will be used.

There's also a chicken and egg problem. Would you leave FB if your friends are still there, well, no. But your friends won't leave until you do. It's not like you can coordinate switching social networks with your whole extended family. Great Aunt June just got this FB thing figured out, and those casino games are pretty cool after all.

I'd say FB would have to drive them away via too many ads/restrictions/privacy issues etc.

Guest said:

I never had a FB account. I don't really care what a kid from elementary school ate for dinner last night or what his kids are doing at school. I guess I can hold out just a few more years...

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Facebook's edge that it holds, in my opinion, is that fact that my parents and grandparents are on there. I might get something else, but Facebook will always have then, therefor I'll always have my Facebook account, if not, just to talk to family. My parents and grandparents see no need to change, and will be Facebook users till death. So In a couple generations, yea.. Facebook will probably be gone, but 2015? Nope.

2 people like this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I find myself using Facebook less and less. It's become a morass of mind-numbingly useless status comments (I don't care what you ate for dinner, that's what Twitter is for), constant barrages of invites to the latest farmville or candy crush flavor of the week, a breeding ground for disinformation and/or hoaxes (for the weak minded who can't bother to check facts before liking and reposting things)... Generally useless, other than for the tiny glimmer of utility when I want to get in touch with friends or relatives I don't contact on a regular basis.

Add in the "auto play" videos and targeted ads that keep being mentioned as "coming soon" and I am even less inclined to spend any time on FB. And, every time a lazy company wants me to "go like us on Facebook" to get their info, rather than a real website, a puppy dies. You want my business and want me to know what you do? Build a website, put your info there, and do NOT require me to link to Facebook or tell my friends about you...

Will Facebook be close to dead by 2015? I doubt it, but I truly hope so! The mad scramble by companies to actually figure out how to advertise and provide product content, rather than rely on likes and social media spam, would be worth the price of admission. I'll bring the popcorn!

JC713 JC713 said:

This is no way surprises me, especially with the BS that occurs behind the scenes at FB.

Guest said:

It's not like you can coordinate switching social networks with your whole extended family.

That's the whole point about Facebook losing young users. The teens and young adults don't like having their family on their social networks, and those are exactly the public that drives adoption of online services.

The whole reason Facebook became as successful as it did was because it started as a place for college students only, even requiring a college email address to sign up at one point. After it became more widely available, it was the teenagers (and other young adults not on college) who quickly jumped onboard. That's what Facebook had going for them, it was a great place to communicate and share photos with no parent supervision. Once parents and relatives started joining, Facebook started losing its appeal to young users and began its downward slope, and now the young userbase has been driven to smaller, more specific (and more importantly, free of parents/relatives) services like Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The whole reason Facebook became as successful as it did was because it started as a place for college students only
Which is now irrelevant to the survival of Facebook. It is friends and families keeping Facebook alive now, not college students. And the industry trying to profit on its success is killing it. They have already killed Facebook as far as I care.

Guest said:

Can we get the money back from Suckerberg? Make him cry like Beber!

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

I barely even touched my FB account for months now, and when I do it was for some important convo. I feel dead inside.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I remember reading on some other tech site this exact same story, and they did mentioned that this study was conducted by people who ........ know nothing about social media, so it must be taken with big fat grain(s) of salt.

By the way, even if FB died, I wouldn't care one bit, since I only used once (with out using my actual credentials), to vote for a friend who was taking part in some competition.

Also, it is strange phenomenon that social media sites come and go at much rapid rate, but still many big players continue to invest in this area to get some foothold.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Everything has a beginning and an end. I'm just surprised FB has lasted as long as it has. I've never seen the sense in it or even had a use for it apart from the fact it was only ever good for reminding me of birthdays of my widespread family and even then I wished them with a Whatsapp message. I can't remember when I last signed in.

p51d007 said:

As long as their are grandchildren, grandparents and both not in the same location, there WILL be facebook.

Mike Steele Mike Steele said:

I found my brother on facebook a few years ago. after signing up, people from where I grew up started sending friend requests. I accepted. I had around 230 friends to start. as time went on I cleared out people who never posted, people who posted every second, people who posted from every site they visited, people with foursquare, overly religious people, food picture people, etc. I went from 230 friends to 27 when I finally deleted the account. I opened a new one to log into sites. I've used adblock plus and social fixer to hide all the junk and I won't accept friend requests or even tell anyone I have the account. facebook, when used as they intended it, is possibly the most idiotic thing I've ever seen online...

Jim$ter said:

As a TECH person I use it as a tool. I'm very surprised at most of these comments. Seems like you don't realize the tool you have available. Its the same way people don't know how to use Google. I guess hate what you don't understand or what you can't see other uses for. . I use it as a resource. I can find almost anyone or any business on Facebook. Can you do that with any other service? Not even close. Who cares if the kids aren't online. They still have an account and I know if I send a message it will get to them. If I have a complaint about a product I know they will take a facebook post a lot more serious than a email or phone call. Its the best tool we all have and if you stop treating it as a toy and more of a resource and learn how to use it..maybe just maybe you won't hate it as much and would see if it disappeared it would be a a big loss. Did you know you can tweak what you see...Seeing game request? I haven't seen them for years! Seeing pictures of food? Really...Your a tech and don't know how to make facebook display what you want to see? SMH.... Hint Facebook Purity and the arrow next to post and hovering over peoples names can do amazing things.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I will never see Facebook as a tool, I'm not a Data Collection Agency or NSA.

1 person liked this | Jim$ter said:

Doesn't matter how you see it. I was just telling you that there are other interesting uses for Facebook other than just playing games or seeing what people eat every day. How you use or customize Facebook to fit your needs or not use it at all is up to you.

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

As a TECH person I use it as a tool. I'm very surprised at most of these comments. Seems like you don't realize the tool you have available. Its the same way people don't know how to use Google. I guess hate what you don't understand or what you can't see other uses for. . I use it as a resource. I can find almost anyone or any business on Facebook. Can you do that with any other service? Not even close. Who cares if the kids aren't online. They still have an account and I know if I send a message it will get to them. If I have a complaint about a product I know they will take a facebook post a lot more serious than a email or phone call. Its the best tool we all have and if you stop treating it as a toy and more of a resource and learn how to use it..maybe just maybe you won't hate it as much and would see if it disappeared it would be a a big loss. Did you know you can tweak what you see...Seeing game request? I haven't seen them for years! Seeing pictures of food? Really...Your a tech and don't know how to make facebook display what you want to see? SMH.... Hint Facebook Purity and the arrow next to post and hovering over peoples names can do amazing things.

Seriously, do you work for Facebook? I have no use for it, never have been on it. I think as more adults get on it, the kids will get off of it. People waste a massive amount of time on it for no real purpose unless you think one of your 300 'friends' and I use that word loosely, filling you in on how they just had a great bowel movement is useful, it needs a more descriptive name like its sibling Twitter. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary "Twit- a silly annoying person" At least Twitter is descriptively named. I don't realize the tool I have available, you say? Maybe I think you are a tool for promoting Facebook, you own stock or something

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

If you've ever felt like Facebook is little more than an epidemic spreading through society like a contagious disease, you might not be too far off base.....[ ]......
I don't know if Facebook "a rampant disease", a plague", or a fad. I do know that it appears to me it is an, "imbecilefest", the celebration of which unfortunately, is held 24/7, and 365 days a year, instead of being contained to its rightful day, which is April 1st.

Perhaps I should rethink this, and drink the water of madness. I know, I'll show I don't believe Facebook is a fad, by using a "Hula-Hoop" as my avatar.....:p

ShadowDeath said:

Guessing the world also ends in 2015 like these guys also predicted, princeton people always looking for that 15minute fame just like the mayans.

Sooo... Facebook = Skynet?

Guest said:

There is definitely a change out there, few years ago at a post like this about FB more then half of the comments contained something like "I can't live without FB" or "there is not a day that passes by without checking it", but now, so far there isn't one comment in which someone is saying this.

But FB will not disappear that soon, even if it dies, consider just how many websites use the sign in with facebook, it almost replaces the password totally.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

There is definitely a change out there, few years ago at a post like this about FB more then half of the comments contained something like "I can't live without FB" or "there is not a day that passes by without checking it", but now, so far there isn't one comment in which someone is saying this.
I would be embarrassed to admit that, even if I did that, which I absolutely do not.

But FB will not disappear that soon, even if it dies, consider just how many websites use the sign in with facebook, it almost replaces the password totally.
Facebook won't away anytime soon. It's too mediocre not to survive a contemporary culture which is completely obsessed with banality. Half the US population runs around with its nose stuffed up Kim Kardashian's a**, and the other half wants to "friend" them on Facebook because of that. Life becomes really meaningless when you start worshiping faces without any talent or brains behind them. If Andy Warhol was around today, he wouldn't bother with coke cans, it would be a 2X life size plaster of paris model of Kimmy's rear end.

Does the Chinese Calendar have a "year of the imbecile" coming up? 'Cause it sure would be appropriate.

cartera said:

Reading all these comments just made my day....

Facebook has become a ad-bloated waste of time.

As a TECH person I use it as a tool. I'm very surprised at most of these comments. Seems like you don't realize the tool you have available. Its the same way people don't know how to use Google. I guess hate what you don't understand or what you can't see other uses for. . I use it as a resource. I can find almost anyone or any business on Facebook. Can you do that with any other service? Not even close. Who cares if the kids aren't online. They still have an account and I know if I send a message it will get to them. If I have a complaint about a product I know they will take a facebook post a lot more serious than a email or phone call. Its the best tool we all have and if you stop treating it as a toy and more of a resource and learn how to use it..maybe just maybe you won't hate it as much and would see if it disappeared it would be a a big loss. Did you know you can tweak what you see...Seeing game request? I haven't seen them for years! Seeing pictures of food? Really...Your a tech and don't know how to make facebook display what you want to see? SMH.... Hint Facebook Purity and the arrow next to post and hovering over peoples names can do amazing things.

This can almost all be done with whatsapp and FaceTime without ads, it just hasn't been consolidated yet. When it is merged it will become the next craze and then, things will change again. 2015 though? That is far too early a prediction.

I can't wait for the day when someone mentions facebook and the youngsters in the room give the look that is now reserved for someone mentioned a floppy disk or gramophone.

Guest said:

I deleted my Facebook account 3 years ago. I value my privacy. I make plans with friends by calling them, confirm plans through texting, and we speak in person. I definitely expect Facebook usage to decline, however I seriously doubt it will be anywhere near as drastic as this prediction.

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