Early today, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, the landmark "social networking" website, announced on his blog that the company had reached a huge milestone of 150 million users.
"Today, we reached another milestone: 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.Facebook and other social networking utilities like Twitter, Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, Ning, etc. have not only changed the face of the Internet, they have changed the way that millions of people interact we each other in any medium.
When we first started Facebook almost five years ago, most of the people using it were college students in the United States. Today, people of all ages—grandparents, parents and children—use Facebook in more than 35 different languages and 170 countries and territories."
Social networking services offer user-friendly tools to connect with friends, family and contacts in order to share opinions, interests and activities using the web, email, "cell phones and other digital devices. Most of these services are free and make their money from advertising on their websites.
Now other kinds of web pages are using social networking functions and tools to change the way visitors interact on their sites. The New York Times, Amazon.com, and many others are using social networking to attract visitors and keep them coming back more often by creating a sense of community. Social networking is becoming less of a destination on the web as a way of interacting with friends and contacts wherever you visit on the web.
The Presidential campaign of Barack Obama utilized Facebook, YouTube and their own my.barackobama.com site to encourage community building, fundraising, political action and more, using cutting edge tools that helped win the day in the elections. Sites like Facebook have become significant places to debate politics and current events as well as organize and mobilize action both in the digital and physical spheres.
With Facebook growing at approximately 450,000 users per day, and News Corp-owned MySpace closing in on the 150 million mark itself, the Facebook milestone is clearly just the beginning of the potential of social networking.
"The full potential of the web is to make the world more open, so everyone has a voice and can share what is important to them," said Zuckerberg.
We can only hope so.
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