Social media service Facebook now has 2 billion users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday, or about 25 percent of the world’s population.
Anita Balakrishnan of CNBC.com had the news:
The milestone comes as Zuckerberg has revealed a new mission for the social network over the past few months. The company, which in the past had focused on connecting the world, is now shifting slightly toward bringing the world closer, a sentiment Zuckerberg echoed in his post announcing the user milestone.
In a Chicago speech last week, Zuckerberg said he strives for users to find “a sense of purpose and support” on Facebook.
“A church doesn’t just come together,” Zuckerberg said. “It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter. A little league team has a coach who motivates the kids and helps them hit better. Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”
Facebook has also shifted its technology to focus on augmented reality, an area where rival Snapchat has been considered a pioneer. Facebook will be making the “first mainstream augmented reality platform out of the camera,” Zuckerberg said earlier this year, an “Act 2” for the company.
Josh Constine of TechCrunch reported that Facebook’s size means more responsibility:
Two billion makes Facebook the largest social app in terms of logged-in users, above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million (extrapolated from its December 2015 ratio when it had 110 million daily and 170 million monthly users). Beyond YouTube, only Facebook’s other apps have more than 1 billion, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, with 1.2 billion each. Instagram might soon join that club as it recently rocketed past 700 million.
Facebook’s growth the last half decade has been fueled by the developing world. The company has relentlessly optimized its app for cheap Android smartphones and low-bandwidth connections. It’s added 746 million users in Asia and the Rest of World region since hitting 1 billion users total. Meanwhile, it only added 41 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Despite Facebook’s size and age, at 17 percent its user count is growing as fast or faster than any year since 2012. And people aren’t using it less either. In fact, 66 percent of Facebook’s monthly users return each day now compared to 55 percent when it hit 1 billion. If the teenaged social network isn’t as cool to teenagers any more, it’s not showing in the big metrics.
But neither does the colossal impact Facebook has had on society, which it’s now trying to bend toward positivity with its new mission statement to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Kathleen Chaykowski of Forbes writes that the 2 billion mark comes days after it unveiled new tools:
The announcement comes a few days after Facebook’s first-ever Community Summit in Chicago, where Zuckerberg unveiled a host of new tools to make it easier for admins of massive Facebook groups to grow and curate their communities. More than 1 billion people use Facebook groups each month, making them a core component of the social network. At the event, Zuckerberg also revealed the company’s new mission, “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Zuckerberg called the statement “an extension” of the company’s original mission of making the world “more open and connected.”
Facebook’s unprecedented reach can be a powerful tool for tackling global problems and democratizing access to people and knowledge. However, the social network’s influence also comes riddled with a host of ethical challenges. The company is continually navigating everything from how to moderate violent and sensitive live video content, to addressing extremist and terrorist groups that mobilize on the app and how to determine which information sources and political perspectives populate users’ personalized feeds.
“We feel like our responsibility is expanding, especially around passing this milestone of 2 billion people in the community,” Zuckerberg said in an interview at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California headquarters earlier this month. “We’ve been thinking about what our responsibility is in the world and what we need to do.”