Facebook 1, Princeton 0

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 24 2014 10:14 AM

Facebook Study Finds Princeton Is About to Go the Way of Myspace

On Thursday I wrote a story tearing apart a study by a pair of Princeton researchers who predicted that Facebook is headed the way of MySpace. As I explained, the study relied heavily on data from Google Trends, which is a bizarre way to measure user engagement. I pointed out that you could use the same approach to show that the popularity of broadband Internet peaked back in 2005. 

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

Now some Facebook data scientists have taken the logic a step further. In a clever Facebook post Thursday evening, Facebook’s Mike Develin, Lada Adamic, and Sean Taylor used Google Trends to analyze the popularity over time of the researchers' own institution, Princeton University. Sorry, Princeton: It turns out you're headed the way of MySpace too. 

Princeton Google Trends
Google Trends data for "Princeton," 2004 to present.

Screenshot / Google Trends

Advertisement

From the Facebook post:

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. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.

Laugh at Princeton if you will, but Ivy League universities won't be the only victims if the researchers' methodology proves sound. As the Facebook data scientists point out, based on Google Trends data, "air" is also on its way to extinction.

Google Trends data on air
Google Trends data for "air," 2004 to present.

Screenshot / Google Trends

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Previously in Slate:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

Walmart Is Crushing the Rest of Corporate America in Adopting Solar Power

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.