Facebook has just five years before its audience begins to splinter, according to digital consumer expert Jeffrey Cole.

Dr Cole, who addressed a digital marketing forum hosted by Ninemsn in Sydney, predicted the site would be no more successful than MySpace and Bebo at hanging onto the fickle teenage audience.

Dr Cole, who predicted the decline of MySpace at an earlier appearance he made for Ninemsn in Sydney four years ago, said it would take longer for Facebook”s dominance to be challenged because of its global scale.

The social network, which yesterday announced it would launch an email service, has more than 500 million users worldwide.

“The same thing will happen to Facebook but it”s going to take a lot longer,” News.com.au quoted Dr Cole as saying.

“And it”s not going to be replaced by one big social networking community but it”s going to fragment,” he said.

Dr Cole is the director of the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California and a director of the World Internet Project.

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