The Facebook Phenomenon

The dynamics of social interaction are changing profoundly, more so than at any time in human history.  On-line social networks have redefined boundaries, challenged our concept of what privacy is, and profoundly altered who we distinguish as a “friend.”  No development has captured the attention and imagination of the world’s population as completely as Facebook, the cyber-juggernaut that has propelled digital virtuoso Mark Zuckerberg – Harvard dropout, Facebook creator and CEO – to the singular status of “youngest self-made billionaire” in history.

Facebook Facts As of January 25th, 2011

  • Global audience of 599,149,160
  • United States Facebook users – 148,216,200 (US population is 312 million)
  • Gender of  American Facebook users: male – 44.5%; female – 55.5%
  • Age (US)
    • < 13                 0.6%                13.30 (millions)
    • 18-24               30.9                 45.91
    • 25-34               22.3                 33.00
    • 35-44               15.3
    • 45-54               11.3
    • 55-64                 6.7
    • >65                    3.9
  • 10 largest countries – Facebook audience
    • United States                148.2 (millions)
    • Indonesia                         34.3
    • United Kingdom             27.9
    • Turkey                             25.1
    • Philippines                       21.7
    • France                              20.3
    • India                                 19.8
    • Mexico                             19.7
    • Italy                                  17.8
    • Canada                             16.9
  • Fastest growth by country, by % of Facebook users
    • China
    • Brazil
    • Iraq
    • Nigeria
    • South Korea
    • Honduras
    • Taiwan
    • Lebanon
    • Japan
    • Cyprus

Facebook’s reach is unprecedented. With a global audience quickly closing in on 600 million users, it has done what no advertising agency, marketing campaign, media organization or other on-line social network could envision: fundamentally change the nature of human interaction in a half-decade. Zuckerberg’s brainchild has permeated the atmosphere of every social demographic, industry and government, with a name and logo as recognizable worldwide as Coca-Cola.

We are more interconnected by technology than at any time in history, but paradoxically we interact less – at least, in the traditional sense of human relations.  Point to ponder: our current high school students have never lived in a world without email, cell phones or the World Wide Web, and for the most part, are doing fine (but doing it much differently than we did).  Most have never played a vinyl record or 8-track, have never heard of PONG, and have never written and mailed a letter.

What the future of Facebook brings will be interesting, no doubt.

(By Chris Potter, School Resource Officer, South High School)