Earlier this week we highlighted a study from Princeton that used Google search trends to predict that Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2017. The study seemed so flat-out ridiculous to us that we gave it our coveted “WTF of the Week” award… and apparently we weren’t alone in questioning its methodology. Facebook data scientist Mike Develin has decided to use similar methods to give Princeton a taste of its own medicine and “prove” that Princeton’s enrollment will crash all the way to zero in less than a decade.

Among other things, Develin looked at a steep decline in Princeton-related “likes” on Facebook as well as a drop in articles authored by Princeton professors retrieved by Google Scholar. If these trends persist, Develin “projects” that Princeton’s enrollment will be cut in half by 2018 and that no students will enroll in Princeton by 2021.

Develin says that the point of this little exercise was to show that “that not all research is created equal — and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.” And he makes a good point: As much as a lot of people really, really have Facebook, we can’t see it going the way of MySpace anytime soon.

View Comments