Facebook continues to fend off suggestions that people are leaving the social network, but this time it’s not just teenagers. A widely-covered study by researchers at Princeton University made the startling claim that “Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017”. However, the study is already being scrutinised beyond its potential for an easy headline. Why? Because the methodology is based on comparing social networks to the rise and fall of infectious diseases, using Google search data for Myspace as its basis, and then predicting that Facebook will follow the same pattern. Sketchy, to say the least, and Facebook’s own data researchers have been having some fun at the study’s expense, using similar Google data to ‘prove’ that “Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all… Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.”

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