Researchers from Princeton claim that Facebook will disappear in a few years, as social media, according to them, is just like an epidemic- spreading infectiously between people before completely dying out.

 Image credit: flickr User: jeremiah_owyang

Image credit: flickr User: jeremiah_owyang

The engineers used epidemiological models to come to their rather peculiar conclusion, as one cannot simply compare the development of social media to the development of an epidemic.

According to the article on Technorati, the engineers used the well-known SIR model which incorporates three ordinary components intended to help us understand an entire population’s behaviour: susceptible S, infected I and recovered R, or in mathematical terms, S + I + R = N (N being the population, independent of time).

This equation is applicable and usable for disease outbreaks that are short lived compared to the lifespan of the population members, as it is well known that such outbreaks reach a critical peak and then their popularity declines.

However, can the same equation be used for online social network (OSN) adoption dynamics?

The complete study by John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, titled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics, concludes that Facebook’s decline has already begun and that Facebook will end up like MySpace.

The research predicts that Facebook will lose 80% of its user base in the period between 2015 and 2017!

Why? Well, if this model is accurate, users will soon start do lose interest and abandon their profiles (in other words, recover from the “Facebook fever”, or “become immune”). The number of the “newly infected” will dwindle and soon enough, it will be bye-bye to the “likes” and “pokes”.

”Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” write the researchers in their study.

Now, these are not simply the ramblings of a couple of ordinary guys; these are smart Princeton scientists! But here’s the kicker: do you see Facebook fading away anytime soon?