Is Facebook Dying? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 29 2014 @ 2:18pm

extrapolating

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry chides the media for buying that paper predicting the death of Facebook. Why “any journalist with, not a science degree, but with a lick of common sense, could have figured out that the study wasn’t reliable”:

The study uses an epidemiology model. Many stories pointed this out, so they read this part! This tells you two things: 1) this study is based on a model, i.e. an abstract and formal representation of the world, not experimentation, which is the evidentiary gold standard in science. When you have a model, you have an idea and a spreadsheet. You don’t have evidence.  2) An epidemic is when lots of people get a disease. Facebook is a website that people sign up for. Those two things are not the same thing! At all! (Insert your own joke here.) You can apply an epidemiology model to Facebook. You can apply a macroeconomic model (what’s Facebook’s demand curve?). You can apply a financial model. You can really apply any model–a “model” is just a fancy word for playing lego with numbers. You can use all sorts of lego to do all sorts of things, but it doesn’t mean your lego “plane” looks anything like a plane, much less will fly.

Dish readers got there first. Nonetheless, Facebook does have legitimate reasons to be concerned about its declining popularity:

Kidding aside, there are other studies citing a decreasing interest in Facebook among young users. In 2013 approximately 45 percent of seniors aged 65 and older used Facebook, up from 35 percent in 2012, according to a survey published in December by the Pew Center for Internet and American Life. Approximately 71 percent of adults older than age 30 use Facebook, up from 67 percent in 2012, the survey added, while users on the site between the ages of 18 and 29 dropped by 2 percent between 2013 and 2012. The rise of older users on Facebook is leading teenagers in the U.K. to abandon the site now that their parents and relatives can see what they post, said Daniel Miller, a professor of material culture at University College London. Contenders poised to become more cool among younger users in the U.K. are Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, Miller said.

But these studies, Jon Russell points out, ignore the social network’s vast global market:

Facebook is far from in crisis. It has 1.1 billion active users. Yes, that’s people who use it every month. In fact, 728 million people use the site or its mobile apps every day, 507 million of whom do so from a mobile device.

That is huge and unprecedented. It dwarfs almost any other company on the Internet in terms of reach, perhaps only Google aside. But, more than just big figures, Facebook is still growing in many parts of the world where it is a key platform — even among competition from messaging apps and others. In parts of Asia, Africa and other emerging markets, Facebook is the Internet for the minority of people who have access (stats compiled by We Are Social show there is plenty of room for growth.)

(Image: xkcd)