'Plague-Like' Facebook to Lose 80% of Users by 2017
Site will be abandoned as 'immunity' builds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2014 4:24 AM CST
Facebook has a lot in common with the influenza virus, researchers say.   (Nih.gov/Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but its dominance of social media is doomed and 80% of its user base will probably drift away over the next three years, according to researchers who compared the growth of social media to the spread of epidemics. The Princeton researchers based their predictions on the number of times Facebook was searched on Google and used epidemiological models along with data tracking the fall of MySpace, Guardian reports.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out," wrote the researchers, explaining that people gain "immunity" to ideas when they lose interest. Facebook won't be happy about being compared to a plague, but it has already admitted that teen users are drifting away, notes Keith Wagstaff at NBC, who quips that "the world should probably look forward to Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg starring in a mash-up of The Social Network and Outbreak."