In response to a controversial study released by Princeton last week, predicting the demise of Facebook, the social network has debunked the findings and hit back using similar methodology to come to the conclusion that Princeton will be out of business by 2021.
The study released from Princeton University used industry comparisons of the rise of Facebook and a model used to study the spread of disease. The study was based on Google Trends search data and, comparing Facebook to MySpace, concluded that Facebook will lose 80 per cent of its users between 2015- 2017. Princeton's study was widely reported and offered a potentially damaging view of Facebook's business.
Facebook's data scientist Mike Develin responded to Princeton's study by applying a similar "correlation equals causation" methodology, and wittily pointed out that "Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely."
Develin analysed a range of data points which included; the percentage of 'Princeton' papers in journals, percentage of articles matching the query 'Princeton' in Google Scholar, and a Google Trends search. All of them, of course, spelt out bad news as Develin concluded that it suggests that "Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness."
The Facebook response hammered home its parody with further examples; Develin says that according to his extrapolation of Google Trends data of the term 'air' - by 2060 there will be no air left... "P.S. We don’t really think Princeton or the world's air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air). As data scientists, we wanted to give a fun reminder that not all research is created equal – and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions," Develin signed-off playfully.
It was quite amusing to see Facebook take the Princeton predictions and 'discredit' them with a playful twist. Facebook's top brass must be pretty sick of seeing reports of the upcoming demise of their incredibly popular social network.