Facebook By Numbers

Social networking is a phrase that meant nothing to most people just a few short years ago and now seems a ubiquitous part of the landscape of our lives. Where we find those social networks keep changing though. In the mid-2000s, every band needed a MySpace presence, and the site seemed like it would just continue to grow in popularity; these days, if virtual tumbleweeds existed, they might be rolling through the site. Friendster was a brave early effort that fell off people’s radars so long ago that many don’t realize it thrives these days as a social gaming site. Google Plus continues to add members at a rapid rate that leaves it second only to Facebook, but the problem for the network is that too few of those users are active.

Other popular sites include Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but they operate differently enough from Facebook and have different focuses as well. Instagram, like Pinterest, is a site for photographs while Tumblr, ostensibly a blogging platform, is largely about images as well. None of these sites can begin to claim the reach or popularity of Facebook.

In fact, the joke about Facebook is that it’s so popular it’s about to become unpopular any second now. Longtime users reminisce about the days it was limited to college students only. How cool can a site be when it’s populated by one’s grandparents, least-favorite relatives and high school classmates? Yet despite these complaints and the endless threats of users to quit the site or go elsewhere in response to Facebook’s ever-changing look, functionality and privacy settings, the site continues to grow and shows no sign of fading away anytime soon. One reason may be because it does everything other social networks can do and then some. Users can post photos, videos, links and their own thoughts. Feedback is immediate.

But who is funding Facebook? How does the site make its money? The answer is advertisers, but who are they? And who exactly is using Facebook? Where are they from? What are the hard facts and statistics behind not just the most popular social network but one of the most popular pages on the Internet?

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