Friday, 24 January 2014

Bad science: No, Facebook won’t lose 80% of its users by 2017

What the articles about this non-reviewed article do not state, is what to a lawyer might be the obvious. This is perfect ammunition for Facebook to deflect any antitrust investigation into its social networking domination - we're a virus with a cure, nothing to see here, we're not Google or MSFT. Priceless propaganda reinforcing the 'MySpace decay' mythology that Facebook encourages:
"Facebook and Myspace are vastly different contagions. For both networks, young people were the first to get the disease. But they were also the first to develop an immunity; even Facebook admits it’s beginning to lose its appeal with teenagers. Myspace, however, never evolved past the stage of infecting the young, whereas Facebook worked hard to bring on new demographics, from young professionals to senior citizens. And it’s still hungry for more, now targeting emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Facebook also benefited from the explosion of mobile devices in a way Myspace never could. By the time the iPhone 3G was released, Facebook had already overtaken Myspace in traffic. To use the authors’ terminology, the rise of mobile phones created a “new vector” for Facebook to spread. As of last Summer, 78 percent of its daily users were on mobile.
Finally, the authors based their projections in part on Google Trends. The study notes that Google searches for “Facebook” peaked back in December 2012 and have been falling ever since. But as the Guardian’s Juliette Garside says in her write-up, Facebook’s Google search slippage is likely due to an increase in users who access the site through its mobile app as opposed to typing “Facebook” into the Google search bar.
Despite the study’s flaws, it does pose interesting ways to think about how social networks grow and recede."
UPDATE: Facebook researchers have replied light-heartedly - but a more serious commentator Jesse Czelusta notes: "Perhaps the biggest hole in the Princeton "study" is the model itself--in the system of differential equations, 1) the "recovered" population can never be re-infected and 2) the larger the "recovered" population, the more rapid the decline in the "infection" rate. Strikes me as highly unrealistic. Not to mention that the paper pays no attention to network externalities, which are the real reasons Facebook is Facebook and MySpace is MySpace, and this is likely to remain the case until we run out of air in 2060. "