Social networking giant Facebook has been compared to an infectious disease by researchers at Princeton University, who have suggested that the site will have lost 80 percent of its users by 2017.

Facebook has been compared to a disease before, most notably in the FriendFace parody from a 2008 episode of the IT Crowd. The University has taken this literally and attempted to combine data from Googles Trends service with research on infectious diseases to predict the future of the Facebook outbreak.

Google Trends reveals that searches for Facebook peaked in December 2012, and the researchers conclude that Facebook has already reached the peak of its popularity and has entered a decline phase, stating, The future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.

The report, authored by John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler from Princetons mechanical and aerospace engineering department, has not yet been peer reviewed, but has already gained much attention, coming weeks before Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday on 4 February.