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Facebook debunks Princeton study: 80 percent of Facebook users to disappear?

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Facebook users listen up: If you are one of the 1.3 billion (yes we said billion) Facebookers out there, then chances are that within the next three years, you will no longer be sending out your hourly updates on your day and pics of your cat doing handstands.

According to a recent Princeton University study, shared by NewsMax on Sunday, more than three-fourths of current Facebook users will abandon the social media giant by the year 2017. As interest in Facebook wanes, researchers say, the site will eventually fall into oblivion, much like fellow social site MySpace did.

The study, authored by Joshua Spechler and John Cannarella from Princeton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, predicts “a rapid decline in Facebook activity in the next few years.”

The researchers applied the same model used in the study of diseases to “extrapolate future adoption and abandonment of social networks.” They looked at Google search queries and analyzed usage reports on sites like MySpace and determined that Facebook is about to go bye bye.

Of course, Facebook struck back, and did so with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm.

In an article entitled “Debunking Princeton,” and carried by Tech Crunch, Facebook Data Scientist Mike Develin writes:

Like many of you, we were intrigued by a recent article by Princeton researchers predicting the imminent demise of Facebook. Of particular interest was the innovative use of Google search data to predict engagement trends, instead of studying the actual engagement trends. Using the same robust methodology featured in the paper, we attempted to find out more about this “Princeton University” – and you won’t believe what we found!

Develin said he used the same “correlation equals causation” methodology that Princeton used, and based on his analysis, he “demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely.”

Many would argue that correlation does not imply causation – simply showing that two things may be related does not imply that they in fact are. In other words, just because MySpace ran out of steam, that’s no guarantee that Facebook will do the same. Yes, Facebook spread like a disease, but will it decline like one?

Continuing his rebuttal to Princeton, Develin writes:

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 the way, the two researchers from Princeton that authored the study? They both have Facebook pages.

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