Home Facebook Halfway to 1 Billion Users

Facebook Halfway to 1 Billion Users

As an early adopter of an unknown service called “The Facebook” back in 2004, it is impressive to see the growth and change that has come to the site. When many of the earliest members joined, a university email address from a select list of institutions was required to sign up. Eventually, nearly every college was opened up, then came high-schools and after that – everyone. Today marks another significant milestone in the history of the Web’s most popular social network as Facebook has passed the 500 million user mark.

Company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement today on the official Facebook blog.

“To celebrate, we’ve put together a collection of stories you’ve shared with us about the impact Facebook and your friends have had on your lives,” writes Zuckerberg. “We’re launching a new application called Facebook Stories where you can share your own story and read hundreds of others, categorized by themes and locations around the world.”

Despite the company’s recent bumpy rides through the mires of privacy disputes, over the last 6 and a half years, Facebook has redefined how we maintain relationships with our connections. We here at ReadWriteWeb even had the adventure of unknowingly confusing thousands of Facebook users who thought our homepage was a radical new redesign of their favorite social network.

500 million users later, distant families and long-lost friends are reconnecting and keeping abreast on one another’s lives. I moved away from my hometown at the age of 9, but I managed to find my childhood friends on Facebook. I also have relatives that I see maybe once a year at best, but with Facebook we can stay connected – and it’s only because the network is as large as it is. Certainly, there are other social Web solutions for staying connected, but the massive scale and acceptance by users young and old of Facebook makes it the best tool we have right now.

Children growing up today don’t remember a time before Facebook – and that’s both scary and fascinating. Future generations will be more and more accepting of sharing their lives on the Internet, which has its obvious pros and cons. At the other end of the spectrum, when my generation grows old and wants to look back on our lives, we won’t need an old crusty photo album. We will simply use whatever popular device at the time that lets us flip through our life’s history as aggregated from decades of social sharing. Facebook has been at the forefront of paving the way for that future.

It has taken 77 months for Facebook to go from 0 to 500 million and the company shows little sign of slowing, even with many leaving the network over privacy issues. The truth is, there is no viable alternative yet, but perhaps Google or those four students from N.Y.U. can change that.

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