Feeds

Facebook debunks Princeton's STUDY OF DOOM in epic comeback

'You're toast, too, in 2021 by the same bad science'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Facebook's data scientists have schooled two Princeton students who published a paper predicting that the social network would lose 80 per cent of its users by 2017 and go extinct shortly afterwards.

In a mock study Mike Develin, Lada Adamic, and Sean Taylor, of Facebook's data team, used the same methods as the original paper to show that Princeton was facing a decline in undergraduates of 50 per cent in the next four years and would have none at all by 2021. They also used the same logic to show the world will run out of air by 2060.

"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," the Facebook trio said.

The team gently points out that the two PhD students from Princeton's department of mechanical and aerospace engineering had fallen into one of the oldest traps in the book, the assumption that "correlation equals causation."

The duo were using [PDF] historical Google search query data as a metric for users, then sought to fit a data curve to the model, working on the assumption that social network membership was spread by friends and would follow a decline as people dropped out, in the same way that flu outbreaks grow and spread. To back this up they used data from MySpace's birth, explosive growth, and then decline to "prove" their point.

By applying the same logic, Facebook's own study now shows Princeton is in a similar pickle, with declining interest among Google users, indicating the institution - established in 1746 – will be student-free by 2021 as fewer people are searching Google for information on the place.

To confirm this finding, the Mark Zuckerberg-led Facebook looked at the mentions of Princeton academic papers that cropped up on Google and found that it has declined sharply since 2009, and is still falling. This correlates the Google Search data and makes Facebook's case that Princeton is doomed.

The Facebook scientists are too polite to say it, but this is either very poor science or just another attempt to gain 15 minutes of fame rather than be any serious attempt at knowledge gathering. Neither outcome reflects well on Princeton academics. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.