When we take pause to appreciate where we are, we can truly appreciate just how far we’ve come.
I recently stumbled across an interesting infographic as it made the rounds across the social web recently. Created by bestedsites.com, the graphic visualizes the meteoric rise of the Internet in just 10 years. For example, in 2002, the Internet boasted 569 million users, which represented 9.1% of the world population. In 2012, that number skyrocketed to 2.27 billion at 33% of the world population. Another tremendous stat is the daily time spent online. In 2002 it was only 46 minutes a day (that was probably the time it took to load one web site). In 2012, it’s clocked four hours a day.
As I was reveling in the rapid evolution and ascent of the internet in general, I took stock of Facebook’s growth. Well, I suppose not literally. Looking at Facebook as a subset of this particular infographic would provide a visual comparison of the static and social web. I once wrote that to the connected consumer, the end of the destination web was upon us. The flow of information has been disrupted. While websites aren’t dead they certainly don’t meet the needs and expectations of a much more real-time audience who live in their egosystem and benefit from news and information finding them. We live in an era where news no longer breaks, it Tweets. As such, I’d love to see a visual comparison of the destination and social web and the numbers between them.
In 2011, Facebook was the size of the Internet in 2004
In July 2012, Facebook reported that its user count was approaching 1 billion with 955 million active users and counting. Those numbers are almost too big to truly grasp. So, I again took pause.
In 2004, thefacebook launched for Harvard University students. Within 24 hours, thefacebook was already home to somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 students according to co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Within the first month, more than half of all Harvard students were registered. By October 2005, “the” was dropped from the company name, Facebook.com was purchased for $200,000, Sean Parker was now the company president, Facebook moved to Palo Alto, and the company opened the network to universities around the world.
Over the course of eight years, the site continued to experience incredible growth, a story of which you’re more than familiar with today.
Here’s a timeline representing milestones for each jump of 100 million users:
August 26, 2008 = 100 million users
April 8, 2009 =200 million users
September 15, 2009 = 300 million
February 5, 2010 = 400 million
July 21, 2010 = 500 million
January 5, 2011 = 600 million
May 30, 2011 = 700 million
September 22, 2011 = 800 million
April 24, 2012 = 900 million
Now (August 2012) = 955 million users
CNET recently reported that as many as 8.7 percent of users are fake. Just to clarify, not fake as in shallow personalities, but fake as in bogus accounts that represent duplicates, misclassified, undesirable, spam, etc. But event at 8.7 percent, the the overall number of people who use Facebook in one way or another is staggering. It is its own Internet and that’s both frightening and fascinating.
My colleagues at Altimeter Group Andrew Jones (@andrewjns), Christine Tran (@christineptran) and I took a look at the numbers to plot them on the infographic to truly visualize how big Facebook really is.
Accounting for the 8.7% of fake accounts, Facebook represents 28% of all Internet users at ~12% of the world’s population (estimated at 7 billion).