(CBS NEWS) - A new Princeton University study makes a bold prediction that the social media giant Facebook will lose 80 percent of its users -- up to 952 million people -- over the next three years.
Scott Stein, a senior editor at CNET, joined the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts to discuss the controversial study, which is under peer review before its official publication.
Stein said that the study compares the rise of social media to infectious diseases, using the rationale that “the Internet is viral” and that the “adoption of things is viral.” However, he thinks there might be some clear room for disagreement.
“I think there’s a big difference between a dancing cat and Facebook,” he said.
Stein explained one potential issue with the study.
"I think there are some things that spread and most people have seen them -- they're not interested anymore. But they're looking at Google Trend searches for Facebook, so maybe that suggests how many people will sign up for Facebook, but there's still a billion plus people that use Facebook and is it about getting new users or is it about eventually just growing the interaction with the users you have. You can’t sign up that many more people on the planet.”
Yet, because the Internet is continually evolving, Facebook will need to figure out how to change with the times, Stein said.
“Now we’re all about social media, but at some point, I don’t think the Internet is going to be about social media to the same degree,” he said. “So Facebook needs to keep evolving, like Google, and think about what we’re using. Now, it's phones. In the future, what else is it? And are teens going to keep using it or not?"
Facebook responded to the research, saying “the report is utter nonsense” and included a mock study on the downfall of Princeton University.
Facebook’s research team wrote that they were particularly interested in “the innovative use of Google search data to predict engagement trends, instead of studying the actual engagement trends.” They said by using the same “robust methodology” as the Princeton study, they came to the conclusion that “Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely.”