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Facebook will lose 80% of users by 2017, study finds

Facebook has been described as an "infectious disease" that has spread rapidly but will die away just as quickly, in a new study from researchers at Princeton University that predicts the social media platform will be largely abandoned by 2017.

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Report authors John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler from the Ivy League university's mechanical and aerospace engineering department, have based their prediction on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term.

The charts produced by the Google Trends service show Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since started to trail off.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models, " the authors claim in their paper, adding that Facebook will lose "80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017."

"Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of 'immunity' to the idea," said Cannarella and Spechler.

Expert: 'Easy to prosecute' some social media users

Social media users who knowingly break court orders by posting prohibited information online, such as the identities of James Bulger's killers, can "easily" be prosecuted, a legal expert has warned.

Joshua Rozenberg warned twitter users to listen to reporting restrictions before posting online. Credit: DaybreakITV

Joshua Rozenberg explained: "If you can show that somebody knew that there was a court order in force, as this man last week, who was very nearly sent to prison - in the end he got a suspended sentence and a hefty financial penalty.

"But if you know that there is a order saying you can't publish a picture of Jon Venables, then it is obviously more easy for the Attorney General to prosecute you."


Careless tweets have landed celebrities in trouble

Careless tweets have landed a host of celebrities in trouble in the past with comedian Alan Davies, Sir Bob Geldof's daughter Peaches and Sally Bercow all finding themselves in legal difficulties due to their online posts.

Sally Bercow found herself in trouble due to sending a careless tweet. Credit: Max Nash/PA Archive

Social media users have also found themselves in contempt of a court - nine people admitted naming the woman raped by footballer Ched Evans on Facebook and Twitter.

They were all told to pay the victim £624 each.

Court warnings will 'help stop people breaking law'

The Attorney General said he was publishing legal guidance notes previously only issued to the media to "help stop people from inadvertently breaking the law."

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Dominic Grieve QC said: "Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean that individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post. This is an exciting prospect, but it can pose certain challenges to the criminal justice system.

"In days gone by, it was only the mainstream media that had the opportunity to bring information relating to a court case to such a large group of people that it could put a court case at risk.

"That is no longer the case and is why I have decided to publish the advisories that I have previously only issued to the media.

"This is not about telling people what they can or cannot talk about on social media - quite the opposite in fact, it's designed to help facilitate commentary in a lawful way.

"I hope that by making this information available to the public at large, we can help stop people from inadvertently breaking the law, and make sure that cases are tried on the evidence, not what people have found online."


'Anti-social network' helps users to avoid their friends

A developer in the US is experimenting with an app to help anti-social people avoid their friends when out and about.

Unlike the location-based app FourSquare, which enables users to see if any of their friends are nearby, the new anti-social network allows them to maintain a safe distance.

The 'Hell Is Other People' app shows friends as orange dots, and 'safe zones' as green dots Credit: Hell Is Other People

'Hell Is Other People' uses orange dots on a map to plot where friends last logged into FourSquare. Green dots show locations that have been designated as safe anti-social zones.

In a video-taped trial of the service, a user succeeded in avoiding all of his friends, but was disconcerted to find that some of the green spots were located in rivers.

Time magazine reports that it is the latest in a series of reactions against the growing intrusiveness of social media. Similar services include EnemyBook, Hatebook and Snubster.

Hundreds charged over social media crime

Complaints of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter have increased 780% in four years, resulting in around 650 people being charged last year, police figures show.

The phenomenon of social networking crime was comparatively minor in 2008 with 556 reports made to police, according to the statistics released by 29 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act.

A total of 653 people faced criminal charges over social media allegations this year. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

But this year 4,908 offences in which the two sites were a factor were reported.

Police forces were asked to provide the number of crime reports in which either Facebook or Twitter was a key factor. This included offences committed on the sites, such as posting abusive messages, and those which were provoked by postings, including violent attacks.

A total of 653 people faced criminal charges over the allegations this year, according to the forces which responded.

Great Manchester Police charged the highest number of people, at 115.

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