A study suggests so:
By drawing similarities between Facebook’s rapid adoption and the proliferation of an infectious disease, researchers at Princeton have devised a model that predicts Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017.
“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” write authors John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler in an article recently posted to the preprint database arXiv. The basic premise is simple: epidemiological models, the researchers argue, can be used to explain user adoption and abandonment of online social networks, “where adoption is analogous to infection and abandonment is analogous to recovery.”
Mashable thinks this logic is fundamentally flawed:
It all starts with ideas — or rather, the notion that ideas are like diseases. Ideas “have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” the study says. That sounds rational until you consider all the ideas that have spread and stuck — such as democracy, electricity and the theory of evolution.
John Aziz criticizes the study for comparing Facebook to MySpace:
MySpace died as it became clogged up with spam, was neglected and misunderstood by its new corporate owner, and after its users migrated to other social networks, particularly Facebook.
Facebook doesn’t necessarily face any of these problems. While Facebook has introduced advertising and while spam is a problem, Facebook has done a reasonable job at fighting spam. It has thus been far less intrusive than the huge quantities of spam that infested MySpace in its dying years. Another big difference: At Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg remains in charge, and the company is making profits.