Researchers Compare Facebook To Disease, Say Die-Off Is Coming

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Researchers Compare Facebook To Disease, Say Die-Off Is Coming

The Matrix screen

A pair of Princeton researchers using "epidemiological modeling of online social network dynamics" say that Facebook will see a rapid decline in users over the next few years.

An awful lot of people use Facebook. An awful lot of people died of the Black Death. What's the link? According to Princeton University researchers John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spencer, the rise and fall of online social networks [OSNs] like MySpace and Facebook are analogous to infection by, and recovery from, disease.

"The application of disease-like dynamics to OSN adoption follows intuitively, since users typically join OSNs because their friends have already joined," their research paper states. "The precedent for applying epidemiological models to non-disease applications has previously been set by research focused on modeling the spread of less-tangible applications such as ideas. Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models."

If the results of the research are even close to accurate, the news is not good for Facebook. "Having validated the irSIR [Infectious Recovery SIR] model of OSN dynamics on Google data for search query MySpace, we then applied the model to the Google data for search query Facebook," it concludes. "Extrapolating the best fit model into the future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017."

It's easy enough to look at this as an exercise conducted by bored academics with too much time on their hands, but as they note in their introduction, there are real-world applications for this sort of thing too. MySpace was founded in 2003 and was purchased by News Corp in 2005 for $580 million, but after peaking at 75.9 million unique monthly visits in 2008, it faded to irrelevance by 2011 and was sold that year for just $35 million. Facebook acknowledged in October 2013 that it had experienced a decline in usage among younger teens in the U.S., the first time it has reported such a loss.

Source: Cornell University Library

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Did you misspell disease or was that intentional? Oh yes it was a misspelling, pardon for the relatively pointless post other then questioning that.

Guess I'm immune then. So after Facebook it might be Twitter, and then we'll go back to self-confined BBSes that individually focus on a single subject again? I'm fine with that. No need for EVERYONE to get involved with one thing.

As fun as it is to draw connections between unrelated things, it seems like a poor idea to assume that since one disease matched the pattern of growth and remission seen in one social network that you can apply this to all social networks.

I don't doubt that Facebook will sooner or later lose its pull, but it's not just going to die because everybody will spontaneously say "Oh, looks like it's time to stop using Facebook. Time to quit."

Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

You needed some researchers to tell you this?
The IT Crowd already covered this!

I stopped using facebook, and most other 'social' networking site a good few years a go. When your Grandma can see pictures of you drunk, naked, doing drugs and having sex you know there's absolutely no need to use it.

Now to apply this model to MMOs. With WoW dying off, how long before the next great game hits that attracts enough users to create a similar pattern? And would F2P be considered as a mutation of the MMO genome that may create a secondary infection for some games while not working at all for others?

Falterfire:
As fun as it is to draw connections between unrelated things, it seems like a poor idea to assume that since one disease matched the pattern of growth and remission seen in one social network that you can apply this to all social networks.

I don't doubt that Facebook will sooner or later lose its pull, but it's not just going to die because everybody will spontaneously say "Oh, looks like it's time to stop using Facebook. Time to quit."

Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

I think a better model for the way social networks die is subscription based MMOs, which if you look at the one on top, tends to die because something significantly better comes in and kicks its ass. First there was Neverwinter Nights, then Ultima Online knocked it off its perch, then Everquest took it down, and then WoW came along, and it's been top dog ever since.

Similarly, first there was Livejournal, then there was Myspace, now Facebook rules the roost. It's not going anywhere until people both get fed up with it and something significantly better comes along. Right now the only other real contender is Google+, and Google's managed to piss too many people off with the way they're pushing it for people to move over in large numbers. I think I've got four or five separate G+ accounts at this point, because they just get tossed in every time you make an account for one of Google's other services, and I make a point of never using it because of how obnoxious they've been about it.

Wouldn't surprise me. Twitter does seem to be getting more attention now, and friends of mine who used to be on Facebook a lot are not there anymore. I'll still use it for a long time though, as it's a good way to keep in contact and plan stuff with some of my other friends.

I'm all about VK anyway. I spend far more time on VKontakte (russian facebook) than FB anyway. There's far less 'useless friend spam'.

Analyst Reports Facebook Dying

also known as:
This Just in: Today is a day that ends in 'Y'

Falterfire:
Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

That's the part that makes this model realistic though.

As soon as some people start becoming 'resistant' to Facebook and don't use it anymore then all those other users won't be able to find those people anymore and will instead look elsewhere and possibly stay there. Subsequently there's even more people that can't be found on Facebook that will spur even more to look elsewhere.

I don't know if it will happen in the next few years. But I do think it's rather likely that if/when Facebook dies off it will be very rapidly in an endless spiral of people leaving causing others to in turn leave themselves.

This is one of my favorite headline/picture combos on The Escapist in recent memory.

But I've always compared Facebook to a disease anyway. A horrible social disease that your friends give to you, again and again.

Falterfire:
As fun as it is to draw connections between unrelated things, it seems like a poor idea to assume that since one disease matched the pattern of growth and remission seen in one social network that you can apply this to all social networks.

I don't doubt that Facebook will sooner or later lose its pull, but it's not just going to die because everybody will spontaneously say "Oh, looks like it's time to stop using Facebook. Time to quit."

Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

Yeah, I would have to agree, I mean they pointed to Myspace as the example of historical proof. The thing is, that Myspace died SPECIFICALLY because Facebook overshadowed it, and provided a more desirable interface. In otherwords, I don't see Facebook dying until someone comes up with a better version.

Myspace peaked at less than 80 million users and had a 6 year lifespan.

Facebook's 10th anniversary is in 12 days and has 1.2 billion users meaning 50% of people on the internet use Facebook.

Wow, what amazing discovery. Facebook experienced a sort of exponential growth, before slowly balancing out. Like diseases. And like many, many other things. In fact, this pattern of exponential growth is one of the most common occurrences in nature, if not the universe. So everything must somehow be interconnected... population growth, internet connectivity, the rise of economies... it blows my mind.

Makes you wonder though, why they chose diseases for their incredible analysis, and not one of the million other possible things which might in fact lead to a million different conclusions..

Falterfire:
As fun as it is to draw connections between unrelated things, it seems like a poor idea to assume that since one disease matched the pattern of growth and remission seen in one social network that you can apply this to all social networks.

I don't doubt that Facebook will sooner or later lose its pull, but it's not just going to die because everybody will spontaneously say "Oh, looks like it's time to stop using Facebook. Time to quit."

Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

The problem is that facebook is controlling to a certain extent, who you communicate with and the answer to this will be a more focused, centralized networking tool, your mobile device.

A lot of people are looking at ways of pulling you out from under the umbrella of social media sites. Imagine the same connectivity, except with complete control over your data, and how it is used. The day someone cracks that code is the day facebook and twitter go by by...

Most people willingly join social media sites because they want to join them. Most people don't willingly infect themselves with the plague. This analogy seems pretty off.

Die-Off is Coming

We can only hope.

Elvaril:
Most people willingly join social media sites because they want to join them. Most people don't willingly infect themselves with the plague. This analogy seems pretty off.

Not all of them. Most people joining Facebook under the age of 55 (definitely under 25) now are on it because the Olds (parents, grandparents, other family) insist they join so they can keep an eye on them. People on Google+ are on it because Google is constantly trying to trick you into joining it, and makes it so annoying that eventually people just give up and join even if they never post anything. If people joined G+ voluntarily they'd have less than 1/100th the users they're claiming.

I'd say Twitter and Snapchat and WhatsApp are still in the 'because they want to join them' category.

Like the dinosaur...

Cool, can we get back to the Forums Disease now? I have no idea why so many people just stopped catching that one.

Odd that they would base this on the SEARCH TERM "Facebook". Maybe people are just getting smarter about actually entering the URL rather than having to search for Facebook in Google and then click on the link?

Or did I misread?

Tim_LRR:
Odd that they would base this on the SEARCH TERM "Facebook". Maybe people are just getting smarter about actually entering the URL rather than having to search for Facebook in Google and then click on the link?

Or did I misread?

That's a pretty good point. Consider the vast number of people who use Facebook on mobile devices, which runs through an app instead of a browser. No Google search needed so of course Google search data shows a declining trend.

Idlemessiah:

Tim_LRR:
Odd that they would base this on the SEARCH TERM "Facebook". Maybe people are just getting smarter about actually entering the URL rather than having to search for Facebook in Google and then click on the link?

Or did I misread?

That's a pretty good point. Consider the vast number of people who use Facebook on mobile devices, which runs through an app instead of a browser. No Google search needed so of course Google search data shows a declining trend.

I haven't googled facebook in probably 2 or 3 years, just because my address bar automatically goes to it when I press 'f' or its on my most visited websites list when I open up my browser.

OT: The only thing that I could see bringing facebook to its knees is a better social networking website, that's what ended myspace. Myspace was also a lot smaller, and no where near the span of facebook. Someone earlier mentioned that around half of all internet users use facebook.
What other social media websites could rival facebook anyway? Google+? They've had to force that onto youtube.

Not that I'm terribly sad about it, but what happens next then?

As others have stated, this is just about the search for Facebook, not necessarily the use of it. Let's assume that Facebook will die off though, where do people go from there? "Local" sites?
I only stopped using my different IM's because of Facebook, or rather because people stopped using theirs.

It's unlikely that it'll die off within a few years. If so, it'll be because of a new service that's just as userfriendly(or probably more), but less intrusive.
I wouldn't bet on a "die-off" so readily. It can happen, sure, but there has to be something to migrate to, before that happens.

I just hope that the horrors of Facebook will lead to some sort of social change, like how the Black Death led to the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and Protestantinism.

So every time I've said that social sanity has been "plagued" by Facebook's existence I wasn't speaking hyperbolic-ly?

Good to know.

I know people give Google+ crap, but I actually like it. I like that I can group stuff the way I want it, so I can keep family, friends, and whatever in separate feeds instead of one huge one. I also like that most of the geeky YouTube channels and personalities I want to follow post there as well. And if that becomes to crowded, I can break them up into separate circles how I want them arranged. Plus the interconnection with things like YouTube make it easier to see if someone replied to a comment I made, or what videos my friends or family liked.

I just hope that Google sees all the complaints that people have about Facebook, and makes sure not to make the same mistakes.

Falterfire:

Facebook still offers something that is arguably very important at this point - Finding ways to communicate with other people when you only know their name. Phone books aren't as useful now that quite a few people (especially College students) don't have home phones and there isn't even such thing as an Email Book. I know quite a few people (myself included) who have a Facebook and never use it except as a way to contact people who I otherwise don't have a line to.

That is all I use it for, a couple friends I wouldn't have contact with if I didn't have an account. I've made and deleted accounts twice and come back to find that odd person I would like to get in contact with. But I could see a massive drop in daily use by many people, moving to where they simply use it more as a phone book for friends.

Bug MuIdoon:
I stopped using facebook, and most other 'social' networking site a good few years a go. When your Grandma can see pictures of you drunk, naked, doing drugs and having sex you know there's absolutely no need to use it.

If you've got pictures like that on a social networking site then clearly the site isn't the one with a problem.

Anyway, haven't similar predictions been made about WoW? I've yet to see them pan out.

MASTACHIEFPWN:

Idlemessiah:

Tim_LRR:
Odd that they would base this on the SEARCH TERM "Facebook". Maybe people are just getting smarter about actually entering the URL rather than having to search for Facebook in Google and then click on the link?

Or did I misread?

That's a pretty good point. Consider the vast number of people who use Facebook on mobile devices, which runs through an app instead of a browser. No Google search needed so of course Google search data shows a declining trend.

I haven't googled facebook in probably 2 or 3 years, just because my address bar automatically goes to it when I press 'f' or its on my most visited websites list when I open up my browser.

OT: The only thing that I could see bringing facebook to its knees is a better social networking website, that's what ended myspace. Myspace was also a lot smaller, and no where near the span of facebook. Someone earlier mentioned that around half of all internet users use facebook.
What other social media websites could rival facebook anyway? Google+? They've had to force that onto youtube.

Not so much what as an army of who.

Tumblr, Linkedin, reddit, neogaf, etc. The internet is specializing. The younger people are moving away from generic facebook to something else. Somewhere without your family hanging over you.

Facebook owes its existence to teens and 20 somethings. Its purpose has always been centered around that demographic. If its now seen as just another social networking site for old farts to share family photos then the reputation takes a nose dive, as well as usage and join rates. This demographic isn't known for their love of "boring" families and family photos.

No young, cool people and you're in for a bad time.

So I guess I should be happy that I don't go on Facebook much anymore? I used to be really into it, feeling somehow obligate to post every day to stay interesting. Good to know I'm cured I guess, though I suppose all the time I spend here on the forums could be seen as equally pointless.

I have nothing against social networks, but I do wish people would stop looking at smart phones while walking around to check said websites, even though it gives me plenty of opportunities to mess with those goofy iZombies.

*sigh* Utter bullshit. Though I wish it were true.

Facebook is a tool, as long as people require the use of this tool it will continue to exist.

Until something better comes along or until it is no longer useful Facebook will continue its sad and horrible existence and plague us all.

Extragorey:
Anyway, haven't similar predictions been made about WoW? I've yet to see them pan out.

WoW has definitely been experiencing calcification and huge subscriber loss (down to 7M from 12M). But it can take forever to die, especially with nothing better to actively steal them (yes, I'm sure some people will defend their favorite MMORPG as way better than WoW, but to me they're almost all boring variations on proc and press a key, or have other major weaknesses).

Facebook could similarly live on 'forever' till all the old people die. Hell, AOL is still around, and so is AOL dialup service.

The only reason I have a facebook account is to keep up with people that I don't have phone numbers or email addresses for but still want to talk to on odd occasions, I usually only post something once every few months and maybe the occasional comment, but that's it. So it's a giant digital contact book for me.

I wonder when the world - hell, even just the scientific community - will figure out that not everything has to be analogous with everything else.

Since Facebook does not disable the user's movement, kill them in droves or "contaminate" without intention, that's about as non-analogous as you can get.

Its good that i chose to be "immune" to this disease then, isnt it?

oldtaku:

Extragorey:
Anyway, haven't similar predictions been made about WoW? I've yet to see them pan out.

WoW has definitely been experiencing calcification and huge subscriber loss (down to 7M from 12M). But it can take forever to die, especially with nothing better to actively steal them (yes, I'm sure some people will defend their favorite MMORPG as way better than WoW, but to me they're almost all boring variations on proc and press a key, or have other major weaknesses).

Facebook could similarly live on 'forever' till all the old people die. Hell, AOL is still around, and so is AOL dialup service.

to be honest there are plenty of new MMOs coming out that seem to have fanatic following (star citizen anyone?) that may bite into that crowd. it will certainly take long to die, heck, the oldest graphic MMO is still alive and kicking (it came out couple moths before ultima online!), but its been on staedy and slow decline for a long time. i played it for 7 years (ill let that sink in) and the game is on life support by 95% of players being bots competing with other bots.
No MMO is perfect, and neither is WOW, and i think its going to be a MMO thats DIFFERENT from WOW thats going to finally kill it, not a clone that keeps failing to survive a year.

Also the fact that dialup is alive makes me cry.

Falterfire:
As fun as it is to draw connections between unrelated things, it seems like a poor idea to assume that since one disease matched the pattern of growth and remission seen in one social network that you can apply this to all social networks.

well, the pattern follows for other now dead social networks. thought i agree that corelation does not mean causation.

Owyn_Merrilin:
I think I've got four or five separate G+ accounts at this point, because they just get tossed in every time you make an account for one of Google's other services, and I make a point of never using it because of how obnoxious they've been about it.

I have been force to conenct to google+ and used same G+ account for all of them (it wasnt a choice, it jsut told me it automatically connected. sigh). i recently actually opened G+ just to see how it looks like there and turns out everything i ever done on google services is posted there with my real name. my reaction was similar to the rage meme.

Elvaril:
Most people willingly join social media sites because they want to join them. Most people don't willingly infect themselves with the plague. This analogy seems pretty off.

Not necessarely. I use Skype. I hate Skype. The reason i use it is because everyone else in my country use it and for most people that is the ONLY way i can contact them and i NEED to contact them and thus i am forced to use skype. I have been in this skype slavery for 6 years now. If it was up to me, i would move them all to a better service instantly, however i cant. thats why i always put all my other contacts before Skype in hopes they will choose a different service instead. however they always have skype.
So you see, like a disease, facebook can be spread by other people, and you would be infected agasint your will. as been pointed by couple other posters in here as well.

J.McMillen:
I also like that most of the geeky YouTube channels and personalities I want to follow post there as well.

do they actually do that? because i recently found out that by never entering google+ site i still managed to post hundreds of messages in there somehow because apparently anything i do in any other google service, like youtube, is automatically uploaded there like im some sort of exhibitionist.

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