Facebook hits back - predicts Princeton won't exist by 2021 using 'scholarly scholarliness'

Princeton scholars predicted the social network's demise - a Facebok data engineer used the same "robust methodology" to forecast Princeton's doom

Researchers from Princeton University caused waves on the internet this week when they published a paper claiming that Facebook would lose 80 per cent of its users between 2015 and 2017.

By combining “engagement trends” from Google search data with statistical models predicting the spread of infectious diseases, the paper claimed that Facebook had effectively “peaked” and was set for a swift decline.

Such a claim was bound to make headlines (click here to read our own - healthily sceptical – coverage of the story) but for Facebook employees it seems it was the bad science that really stung.

A data scientist from the social network has hit back, publishing a rebuttal that he says uses the “same robust methodology” as the researchers. His conclusion?

“In keeping with the scientific principle "correlation equals causation," our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely.” Mike Develin of Facebook wrote in a public note on the site.

Aping the research methods of the Princeton team, Develin used publicly available data to track the decline of Princeton’s ‘influence’. Facebook likes, mentions in Google Scholar and searches on Google “have been declining for the last several years,” says Develin.

“This trend 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.”

However, Develin’s research went far beyond disproving the paper’s methods. He also stumbled upon a worrying trend that could be potentially apocalyptic in scope:

“While we are concerned for Princeton University, we are even more concerned about the fate of the planet — Google Trends for "air" have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left.”

 Develin does roll back some of his criticism in a final post script, noting that “We don’t really think Princeton or the world’s air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air),” and adding a final reminder that “not all research is created equal – and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Guru Careers: Financial Controller

    £45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales / Business Development Manager / Account Manager

    £30000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you motivated to hit and ex...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Account Manager / IT Sales - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...

    Recruitment Genius: SharePoint Consultant

    £50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A technical SharePoint Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes