Facebook has the same properties as an infectious disease. It has spread infectiously and will die off in a manner that is consistent with epidemiological models.
These are the conclusions of a Princeton research team, which forecasts the date of Facebook’s rapid decline to begin somewhere between 2015 and 2017. At that point, as the graph above illustrates, 80 percent of Facebook users will abandon the “immense online social network” (IOSN).
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So what to make of the infectious disease analogy?
As Nicholas Christakis explains in the video below, social networks obey particular mathematical rules, rules that can also be found in chemistry. Take carbon, for instance. “When we take constituent elements and assemble them to a larger whole,” Christakis says, “this larger whole can have properties that we could not have foreseen merely by studying the individual elements and properties which do not reside within the individual elements.”
The U.S. does have one thing in its favor: Inertia. The fact that we have been #1 for so long means that we will continue to live off of past success for several years to come. But, we can’t live on fumes forever.