Facebook hits milestone with 500 million active users

FACEBOOK founder Mark Zuckerberg last night announced his social networking site has now 500 million active users, or 8% of the worldwide population.

In a blog post on the Facebook site, Zuckerberg wrote of the milestone: “As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them.”

Facebook’s growth continues at a prodigious rate. The site passed 250m users nearly a year ago to date, announcing that milestone on July 15, 2009.

Yesterday marked the astonishing rise of Facebook just six years after it started in a Harvard dorm room.

The landmark figure comes a month after group chief executive, 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, said there is a “good chance” Facebook could have one billion users in the next three to five years.

Facebook recently came under severe criticism for its complicated privacy settings and fears they leave users unwittingly sharing personal information online.

Its delays in placing a Child Exploitation and Online Protection panic button on the site, to protect against child grooming and bullying, were also widely condemned.

Meanwhile, competition appears to be on the way.

A group of New York University graduates created a stir in June when they managed to raise funds for a new social networking site called Diaspora which they are working on and hope to launch in autumn.

There are also rumours that Google is creating its own Facebook competitor called Google Me, a claim which the company has so far not commented on.

In Britain the website reaches half the total population over the age of 14. In announcing the milestone Facebook declared the website was the “shortest distance between two people”.

No matter how big Facebook gets, Zuckerberg says, it will remain committed to enabling sharing. It has launched a site (stories.facebook.com) that allows users to submit stories about their experiences with the site — in 420 characters or less.

“Whether we’re 500 million or a billion or more, it’s still all about the site being personal and relevant for every individual,” says Zuckerberg. “We really still think of ourselves as at the beginning of the journey.”

He revealed Facebook had just four remaining countries left to conquer: Russia, Japan, China and Korea. “We are down to just four counties where we aren’t the leading social network,” he said.


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