Researchers predict Facebook's downfallReuters

Facebook has been called many things over the years; networking platform, social media marketing tool, stalker's haven, some even said if it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. However, researchers from Princeton seem to have a very different picture on it. They've compared Facebook to a disease.

According to a report in YourStory, two researchers from Princeton University think that the social network is just like a disease which will disappear just as radically as it spread. Using epidemiological models, John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler of Princeton's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have been able to understand the rise and fall of online social networks.

The two doctoral candidates made their astonishing claims in a paper published online on January 17.

Cannarella and Spechler say that Facebook, the largest online social network in history, is set for a massive fall. Their research is based on the rise and fall of MySpace, reports Ninemsn.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models," they wrote.

MySpace's decline between 2008 and 2011 was just as sudden as its rise (the social networking website was founded in 2003). Facebook, according to the researchers, has similarly peaked and is now beginning to show the start of a desertion phase.

"Extrapolating the best fit model into the future predicts a rapid decline in Facebook activity in the next few years," says the study.

According to their report posted online to peers at ArXiv.org, Facebook is expected to undergo rapid decline in the upcoming years, shrinking to 20 percent of its maximum size by December 2014.

"Extrapolating the best model into the future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017," the report said.

In terms of economics, Facebook has emerged as one of the leading platforms for global social media marketing. This research, apart from academic interest, addresses the financial implications of the social network's predicted downward spiral.