Facebook 1, Princeton 0

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.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 16 2014 4:08 PM More Than Scottish Pride Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.