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.