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Facebook Mocks 'Infection' Study, Predicts Princeton's Demise 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-are-more-of-it dept.
Okian Warrior writes "In a followup to the earlier story about Princeton researchers predicting the end of Facebook by 2017, Facebook has struck back with a post using similar statistical techniques to predict that Princeton itself may be facing irreversible decline. By using similar methods ('likes', mentions in scholarly papers, Google searches) Facebook has created graphs that indicate Princeton is losing ground compared with its rivals and may have no students at all by 2021."
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Facebook Mocks 'Infection' Study, Predicts Princeton's Demise

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  • Atleast.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by durrr (1316311) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:05AM (#46055211)

    Princeton will have the last laugh as facebook will be dead before it.

    • Re:Atleast.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by McGruber (1417641) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:25AM (#46056457)
      In the long run we are all dead. - John Maynard Keynes
    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      Not sure about that but I'll say that I had fun reading both articles in full.

    • Princeton will have the last laugh as facebook will be dead before it.

      I am not sure of that. The USA trend is to ship good jobs offshore, and keep the service jobs. Service jobs are low paying.
      If tuition is beyon the abilities of the low paying earners, who will attend. If Princton hit 75% occupency, they probably going to lose money. And the much lower tuition costs of non-USA universities means that there will be a substantial brain-drain, compounding the problem.

      Montreal Canada student rentals are about $1000, sharable for two or three students. Foreign fees are about

  • by Notabadguy (961343) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:06AM (#46055213)

    Turn about is fair play sir!

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:09AM (#46055231)
    Offers good value for the time and money you spend there.
    • Offers good value for the time and money you spend there.

      You wouldn't know it from the idiocies exposed in the Facebook paper.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:25AM (#46055335)

      The kids that go to Princeton would probably do just fine in life no matter where they go.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I think this is probably the major problem with the US college/university system. They say students end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, but I imagine that's only students who insist on going to elite out-of-state/private schools.From the numbers I've seen, going to an in-state college/university in the US isn't any more expensive then going to university in Canada, yet somehow it's completely unaffordable in the US, while in Canada, it's only more expensive than most would like i
        • And probably you end up with the same skills no matter what university you're on, but get hired only if you went to the expensive one.

          That's the only reason why paying more in tuition sometimes might pay of.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            While it is true that the Princeton grad will have the superior resume, that really only matters for the first job out of college. While I'm sure someone here will point out exceptions, work experience quickly eclipses education on the resume.

            • Absolutely right.

              But your first after collage matters for work experience....

              Basically, you can buy a head start. It won't help against a real good competitor, but it might just be the advantage you need over someone with similar (or slightly better) qualifications.

              • by MightyYar (622222)

                Heading back to my original thesis - that your typical Princeton student will be fine no matter where they go... not only are they probably very smart and hard-working, but they probably come from some means and their family is likely to be well connected. You are absolutely right that they are buying a head start, but it is a head start among an already extremely privileged peer group. I know that people of more modest backgrounds also go to Princeton, and to them I say congratulations!

        • Princeton has "needs-blind" admission. They'll help you graduate loan free: https://www.princeton.edu/admi... [princeton.edu]

          You have the filthy rich sitting next to the dirt poor in lectures. But the one thing they both have in common, desides the grim and grit, is that they are both smart and work hard.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            That's great, but who is more likely to be at the top of their high-school class and go to fancy private schools so that they have a leg up on Princeton's admissions criteria?

        • by kilgortrout (674919) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:36AM (#46056635)
          The big three Ivies, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, have unbelievably huge endowments. Harvard leads with $40 billion, and Yale and Princeton have about $20 billion endowments each. As a result, they can afford to offer very generous need based financial aid. In fact, the only financial aid available from the Ivies is need based. If the family makes under about $75K, the student gets a free ride; that's tuition, books and room & board. The financial aid awards go down on a graduated scale based on income and don't cut out until family income is in the $250K range. They appear to intentionally peg it so for a middle to upper middle class family the financial aid award is large enough to make going to the Ivy slightly more affordable than going to an in state public university.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by plopez (54068)

      I worked with a Princeton grad. He said the valedictorian speech was in Greek, but since no one at Princeton knows Greek anymore the student programs had it translated complete with notations as to where to clap and laugh at jokes. For this his dad paid Ivy league tuition. It aptly shows what said Ivy League education actually is, an overpriced sham.

      BTW, I am an A&M grad who was his boss and flogged him at chess.

      • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:52AM (#46056039)

        I worked with a Princeton grad. He said the valedictorian speech was in Greek, but since no one at Princeton knows Greek anymore the student programs had it translated complete with notations as to where to clap and laugh at jokes. For this his dad paid Ivy league tuition. It aptly shows what said Ivy League education actually is, an overpriced sham.

        BTW, I am an A&M grad who was his boss and flogged him at chess.

        You don't go to an Ivy League school for the education. You go for the contacts, networking and prestige. It's not about what you learn at Princeton, but whom you meet.

        • by powerlord (28156)

          Considering the Princeton grad was working for the A&M grad, I'm not sure the contacts and networking were working out as he expected.

          • by tftp (111690)

            Considering the Princeton grad was working for the A&M grad, I'm not sure the contacts and networking were working out as he expected.

            It cannot be determined without knowing more. For example, the Princeton grad could be 23 years old and new to the company, whereas the A&M grad could be 60 years old and own the company.

      • Q: What do you call an Aggie in five years?

        A: Boss.

      • Here you demonstrate the problem graduates of elite universities deal with in the job market. Unless you go straight from university to an investment bank or Google, 95 percent of the people you deal with are not graduates of elite universities. And most of them fervently want to believe they are just as competent as you. Despite the fact that you busted your ass academically for 16+ years, while they may or may not have.

        I mean, there are some very competent graduates of 2nd tier state schools. But there ar

      • no one at Princeton knows Greek anymore

        I don't understand how Rose-Hulman can get someone from Greece on a student visa but Princeton can't.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Notabadguy (961343) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:10AM (#46055239)

    The best part of Facebook's article is where they use identical research methodology to prove that there will be no air left by 2060.

    I predict an immediate rush on all stockpiles of canned air!

    • The best part of Facebook's article is where they use identical research methodology to prove that there will be no air left by 2060.

      I predict an immediate rush on all stockpiles of canned air!

      I maintain a reserve supply of bottled air in my garage. I've got almost 700 cubic feet. 10-15 hours worth at my average consumption rate.

      • If you mean your car (I have no notion of how much 700 cubic feet is, nor do I want to, as I'm quite happy with SI units), don't forget it's not airtight. Be sure to cover everything with tape, so that your reserve doesn't disappear!

      • Brand? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Is it Perri-Air?

    • You laugh now, but when our atmosphere boils off in 46 years your children won't be.
    • Quick! We'll have to steal Druidia's air!

  • This just in (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mdk754 (3014249) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:11AM (#46055243) Homepage
    You can make numbers look however you like in a study, who knew?
  • Okay, that's not what I was expecting to see this morning. Or ever, come to think about it.

    I guess it's good to know that I can respect a well-crafted response, even when it comes from a source I don't respect.

    • I guess it's good to know that I can respect a well-crafted response, even when it comes from a source I don't respect.

      That should have been obvious. Occasionally, people I generally strongly disagree with say or write something I do agree with -- just like a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • 10 : 1 that Princeton wins. Bookie can be contacted over my email .
  • That was quick... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toxickitty (1758282) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:31AM (#46055365)
    Funny how quick they replied to this study, feeling a bit nervous facebook?
    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:47AM (#46055471)

      Funny how quick they replied to this study, feeling a bit nervous facebook?

      Probably less nervous about Princeton's analysis than Wallstreet's, which shows the same thing. It's hard for any business to lose 20% of it's main demographic. When your main revenue stream is online ads and young people are the primary target of those ads, and studies show that once they leave, they are unlikely to return, it doesn't speak well for the future.

      Does that mean FB will go out of business? That's up to them. Tech companies have to keep re-inventing themselves to stay relevant.

    • Considering how quick a misleading study by a top university could totally ruin their stock price, it was be stupid not to respond quickly.

  • Brilliant Response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thoth (7907) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:31AM (#46055369) Journal

    This is a brilliant way to respond to the Princeton study - the correct way - rather than issue a press release denouncing it, or whine about it some other way.

    Instead, use the study's own methodology against them to show other ridiculous conclusions. What are the academics at Princeton going to do, say "oh wait the original methods are bullshit". Anything they say against just weakens their original paper/study.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:42AM (#46055433)

      This is a brilliant way to respond to the Princeton study - the correct way - rather than issue a press release denouncing it, or whine about it some other way.

      Instead, use the study's own methodology against them to show other ridiculous conclusions. What are the academics at Princeton going to do, say "oh wait the original methods are bullshit". Anything they say against just weakens their original paper/study.

      Maybe if Zuckerberg had finished his studies at Harvard, he would realize that an internet company and a university have two totally different business models and the analysis methods for one do not translate to the other.

      • by abies (607076)

        True. Which doesn't mean that ones used in both "studies" are valid for Facebook and invalid for Princeton. They might as well invalid for both. Or, which would be even more funny, applicable to universities, but not to internet portals.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:04AM (#46055625)

          True. Which doesn't mean that ones used in both "studies" are valid for Facebook and invalid for Princeton. They might as well invalid for both. Or, which would be even more funny, applicable to universities, but not to internet portals.

          That might be true, but FB didn't attempt to show the study was invalid. Instead they tried to discredit it with a straw man argument.

      • I dunno, it didn't help the Princeton academics, who apparently didn't realise that viruses and tech companies have two totally different business models, and that the analysis models for one do not translate to the other.

    • by Salgat (1098063)
      I dunno, it sounds a bit childish. The fact that they took this so seriously and devoted resources to this also shows they have a strong concern about losing users, as if that is a real possibility.
    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Or, perhaps, modelling a university's attendance after a virus (using likes of all things) isn't anywhere near as logical as modelling a social website's traffic? I've not heard of much of a correlation between likes and university popularity, but there's a pretty good link between the number of Google searches and a website's traffic.

      To me this sounds a lot more of a tit-for-tat response than anything that'd "weaken" the original paper. I'm not saying the original paper's conclusions are that great, but
      • Its because if Facebook actually had to try and acknowledge the problem seriously, they'd have to acknowledge seriously that they really do have a whole lot of great big question marks over their future - i.e. who pays them for things? Why would they? Do their users stick around when this happens?

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:36AM (#46055385)
    While I can certainly see Facebook fading away, the problem with the Princeton study is that an essential assumption was that since Facebook is the successor to Myspace the data regarding Myspace's rise and fall can be extrapolated to Facebook (using the resemblance of Myspace's rise and fall to certain other phenomena). The problem with this assumption is that Myspace's fall was a result of Facebook existing as its successor. Currently there is no "successor" to Facebook which fills the same niche as Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster filled.
    I am not arguing that Facebook will not fall in the same way that Myspace did. I am just arguing that we do not have the data to make the case. Accurately predicting the fall of Facebook is a matter of "art", not of science and most of those doing so are expressing an opinion based on a WAG (and perhaps on what they hope will happen). Myspace and Friendster were fads. Facebook started as a fad, Myspace and Friendster faded away when they lost their novelty and were replaced by the next fad. However, Facebook has survived past the fad stage. I will repeat that just because Facebook has survived past the fad stage that does not mean that it will last.
    • by ericloewe (2129490) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:58AM (#46055563)

      I'm not sure it's passed the fad stage.

      That is probably true for the traditional social network audience (kids), however, Facebook has a very large user base that arrived more recently and has a greater tendency towards inertia.

      As I've said before, I have no doubt Facebook will somehow disappear. I'm just not sure how.

      Myspace-esque replacement with something else?
      A new overarching medium to replace social networks?
      Some scandal that will drive users (and/or advertisers directly) away, making it less interesting for advertisers?
      Will it morph into something completely different, keeping essentially just the name?
      Will the process drag on for years?
      What will happen to everything that ties into Facebook today? We're talking about phones whose OSes integrate some Facebook stuff, appliances that integrate with facebook, websites that use facebook for authentication...

      Or, of course, Facebook might live forever, but that is not what I'd bet on.

      I'm not going to group Facebook with companies like IBM or General Electric. The former is absolutely dependant on the whims of millions of people. The latter two only have to sell (and support in exchange for big bucks) expensive items to businesses, instead of relying on advertising.

      • I believe that Facebook is well out of the "fad" stage. At this point, I believe that the most likely reason that Facebook may fail is because I am not sure that they have a long term sustainable business model. That is I am not sure they have a way to generate sufficient revenue to keep the company running in the long term. However, I think that they fill a niche in the market that is not filled by anything else.
    • "Currently there is no "successor" to Facebook". Well, of course there isn't. And there wasn't a successor to Myspace for a while either. What we are saying is that we "can't imagine" a successor to Facebook, because, let's face it, if we could we would certainly build it. But the way these things work is that something will come out of nowhere and we'll immediately feel like we "need" to be a part of it. It will fulfill a need we didn't even know we had. Oh, there will be something that knocks off Facebook
      • Myspace was launched in 2003, Facebook was launched in 2004. So, we are overdue for Facebook's successor to be launched if Facebook is going to go the way of Myspace.
    • Every feature of Facebook that caused me to sign on with it when it first opened, is available through Twitter. I'm linked to everyone I know and I can give them status updates and post photos and view theirs. There is no reason for me to ever use Facebook now that I have Twitter.

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Every feature of Facebook that caused me to sign on with it when it first opened, is available through Twitter

        Ok, then, post a single article with 300 words to twitter.
        There are lots of things I dislike about FB, not the least of which is that 95% of the margin ads feature amply endowed young females regardless of the product in question, but at least I can post a complete paragraph plus a pic or two in one element.

        • Every feature of Facebook that caused me to sign on with it when it first opened, is available through Twitter

          Ok, then, post a single article with 300 words to twitter.
          There are lots of things I dislike about FB, not the least of which is that 95% of the margin ads feature amply endowed young females regardless of the product in question, but at least I can post a complete paragraph plus a pic or two in one element.

          This is why I question the long term viability of Facebook: I've had it ad-blocked since forever. I will never un-adblock it. And you've stated the exact reason why and why it's a problem: with all their data, the only ads they push are still "broadest possible demographic" ads that are just unwelcome.

    • The problem with this assumption is that Myspace's fall was a result of Facebook existing as its successor.

      This.

      I refused to use MySpace mostly due to the terrible "customization" that it allowed. I suspect that was the reason a lot of people switched over.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:39AM (#46055401)

    The difference is that Princeton hasn't seen major declines (in the millions) of its primary demographic group. FB is funded both directly and indirectly by advertising/marketers. If the demographic for FB shifts elsewhere, so will the revenue stream. Princeton's funding is more diverse coming from tuition/fees, grants and contributions/bequests. Unless there is a scandal, it is unlikely that those sources will change.

    In addition, the competition of universities is pretty fixed. It is extremely expensive to start a new one (and get accredited). FB, on the other hand, well, it wasn't too long ago that Myspace was the king of the hill and FB was the challenger.

  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:42AM (#46055429)

    Facebook has used the same techniques as Princeton, and as such we can conclude that they approve of these techniques, and find them useful analytical instruments.

    The only conclusion we can draw from this is the demise of both Princeton and Facebook.

  • http://xkcd.com/605/

    Only extrapolate in the opposite direction.

  • Facebook's reply was even really stupid.

    Princenton article proposed a 'virus' model that fitted pretty well to Facebook growth and current decline, and made a prediction based on that, ignoring some social parameters, and made a prediction.

    Facebook's article is just extrapolating, and not being a virtual entity, the virtual presence of Princenton might not be an equally good indicator.
  • by paiute (550198) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:53AM (#46056055)
    The difference being that one is proud if their grandfather went to Princeton and horrified if their grandfather is friending them on Facebook.
  • by superwiz (655733)
    Princeton has a longer history of being resilient and adapting to changing times.
  • Facebook will be a Somalian-owned brand of cheap electronics.
  • by neo-mkrey (948389) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:42AM (#46057351)
    to get Facebook so riled up.

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?

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