Posted on 22 Jul 2010
Facebook, the social network created in the dormitories of Harvard six years ago, said on Wednesday that it now had 500 million members.
The company has grown at a meteoric pace, doubling in size from a year ago and pushing international competitors aside.
Each month, Facebook says, more than 30 billion photographs, links to Web sites and news articles are shared through the site, and its members spend roughly 700 billion minutes there.
“This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world,” Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s 26-year-old chief executive, said in a company blog post.
Facebook’s dizzying rise has not been without stumbles. Most recently, the company was the focus of intense scrutiny over changes to its site that encouraged members to make more information about themselves accessible to anyone on the Internet.
A recent survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index showed that user satisfaction with Facebook stood at 64 on a 100-point scale, which placed it in the bottom 5 percent of the companies covered in the index.
Facebook’s popularity has also spurred competition from the likes of Google, which views the billions of links and hours spent on the site each month as a threat to its business.
But if anything, the site’s steady growth in spite of its setbacks only validates the company’s approach, said Ray Valdes, an analyst at the research firm Gartner.
Facebook has been aggressive in pushing users “to the edge of their comfort zone,” Mr. Valdes said. “But Facebook has proven that it can weather those challenges and still grow.”
Mr. Valdes, who estimates that Facebook is adding 50 million new members each month, attributed the company’s rapid ascension to its continuous effort to change and improve the service.
“That keeps it bubbling away,” he said.