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Will top social media platform Facebook tank by 2017?

According to recent research, the massive popularity of top social media platform Facebook will sputter by 2017, with 80% of its user base defecting.

Facebook, of course, is one of the top social media platforms globally and a clear example of a social network that has gone viral. With an estimated 100 million users as of 2013, the social media platform has spread like wildfire among numerous generations as a way to connect and stay up to date with friends and family. And companies are using it to promote products and services and connect with customers.

But according to two Princeton University researchers, Facebook's popularity is on a serious decline, with 80% of its users due to defect from the platform by 2017, they predicted in a recent study.

Using a model based on the lifecycle of infectious diseases, John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler from Princeton's mechanical and aerospace engineering department, drew a parallel between the spreading of ideas and a population's development of immunity to a disease. Cannarella and Spechler researched the number of times users have searched on Facebook and on other platforms, such as MySpace.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out," the researchers wrote in the paper Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.

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Industry observers doubt the validity of the theory, however, noting that Facebook has gained critical mass among users, where MySpace never did. There is also skepticism about whether the frequency of Facebook as a search term is really a barometer for its popularity.

According to Facebook's Debunking Princeton post, in which it took the opportunity to volley back at the research, Facebook noted that Princeton's own search popularity for scholarly articles in Google Scholar pales in comparison to that of Harvard and Yale.

According to Cannarella and Spechler, the research still needs to undergo peer review, an important phase for all academic research. Maybe that can help determine whether Facebook's days are numbered. Stay tuned.

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