Having smarts doesn't always equal common sense. Recently, Princeton University made waves after releasing a study claiming that Facebook will lose most of its user base — a gigantic 80 percent, to be exact — by 2017. The study likened Facebook to an "infectious disease," claiming that once the social media giant reaches a peak number of people, users will eventually "recover" and leave the site. Well, no: that's actually a very flawed argument, tech experts say. The research relied on shoddy and less-than-scientific evidence, such as how much people Googled the word "Facebook" over time. To retaliate, Facebook parodied Princeton's research — and we're declaring that they've won this round.
Facebook data scientists research on its head, making some nifty little graphs that suggests that Princeton itself, a 268-year-old institution, is on its way out.
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.
By this same logic, air is also so not cool anymore, continues the mock report.
"In keeping with the scientific principle 'correlation equals causation,' our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely," concluded Facebook data scientist Mike Develin.
Princeton's report, which was not peer-reviewed, surmised that since Facebook likes and Google searches are decreasing, the site's demise is surely imminent. The researchers illustrated their idea by using data from the drastic rise and fall of MySpace. And they made a pretty far-fetched epidemiological analogy: "Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models."
Unfortunately, what the Princeton researchers neglected to factor into their research is the wide usage of the Facebook app, and the fact that MySpace had a significantly lower fan base in its heyday. Even though teens are apparently running from Facebook in droves, the site is still very much enmeshed in our everyday lives. Facebook enjoys a healthy amount of about 1 billion active users, and has grown by 22 percent between 2012 and 2013.
And young people still make up the majority of Facebook's users: 83 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds who use the Internet are on Facebook. About half of 18 to 34-year-olds check Facebook when they wake up. Plus, the number of 45 to 54-year-old users has grown by 46 percent since 2012. As any kid who's tried to explain the Facebook Newsfeed to their middle-aged parents (or grandparents) can attest, old people just love Facebook.
Whether you like it or loathe it, it does look like we're stuck with Facebook for the long run.