Facebook like an infectious disease, will lose 80 percent of users, says Princeton study claims that Facebook is at the early stages of an irreversible MySpace-like decline. A Facebook response, not surprisingly, mocks the Princeton study and playfully predicts Princeton's demise.
The question of Facebook's future, though, has been a topic of discussion for quite a while. Even with user levels at around 874 million, the future is never assured. Other studies, some even accepted by Facebook, show that teens are using the site to a lesser extent than in the past.
As Amazon is today what Sears was fifty years ago, it's quite possible that another concept five years from now may leave Facebook a struggling has-been. That's not inconceivable, and perhaps even inevitable.
Facebook is a form of communication, flexible to the individual user. To some, it's a more verbose version of Twitter, to others, it's Instagram or Tmblr. To some, it's just a platform to further distribute content from those other sites.
Users are concerned about privacy issues, of course, but I don't think that concern by itself will drive users away. Google Plus, for all of Google's efforts, hasn't achieved anything near the following that Facebook enjoys, and is slowly achieving a level of the creeping complexity we've seen in its competitor.
As much as users complain about the site's endless tweaks and advertising experiments, Facebook won't quickly fade. It's become a utility - connecting communities far and near - as the telephone and newspaper - and even email - did in other eras. Families, friends and colleagues far and wide won't give it up unless there's something better.
And, in the name of MySpace, Friendster, and Compuserve, there will be.
For a while.