Facebook Hits 500 Million Users

Social networking giant Facebook has crossed an important threshold: the service now claims to have more than 500 million active users around the world. To celebrate, the company is rolling out a new site called Facebook Stories, centering on the positive impacts Facebook has had on individual users’ lives—it’s accessible to the world, not just Facebook users.

“This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a statement. “Now a lot more people have the opportunity to stay connected with the people they care about.”

Recent statistics on Facebook’s user base from CheckFacebook.com place the United States at the forefront of Facebook’s user population, with about 130 million users. The United Kingdom and Indonesia place a distant second and third place, with 278 million users and 26 million users, respectively. However, numbers of users alone don’t always tell the whole story: for instance, according to O’Reilly Radar, over 40 percent of Internet users in Oceania (Australia and surrounding regions) use Facebook, although they account for only a few percent of Facebook’s overall user base.

Facebook launched in 2004 as a dorm room project; the fact the operation has grown to encompass half a billion people around the world in six years is nothing short of phenomenal. However, the company’s path to growth hasn’t always been smooth, with Facebook facing serious questions regarding the security and privacy of users’ data. Facebook has also rubbed some feathers the wrong way: just this week, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index found American consumers’ satisfaction with Facebook was in the lowest tier of all American companies—right in there with cable and television providers.

Facebook Stories is intended to highlight the ways Facebook has had an impact on users’ lives…and, of course, it’s already displaying the pros and cons of the new social media age. In addition to heartfelt statements about how people have used Facebook to make a positive impact in the real world…the site is already being littered with cheesy come-ons, conspiracy theories, and political screeds.

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