In the new virtual age, social networking sites have taken the world by storm. With 175 million users and counting, Facebook has risen above the rest. In fact, if there were a Facebook nation, it would be the world's 6th largest country!
People around the world are reconnecting with long-lost friends and relatives, uniting on common ground from politics to Chia pets. Every day, half a million people join the social network.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea with the help of some roommates in his Harvard dorm room. Five years later, the 24-year-old is reportedly worth close to $1 billion. "It started off just at school, with just a few thousand people," he says. "We never thought it would be this big ... [but] everyone wants to stay connected and share with family and friends and people around them."
Mark says one of the best things about Facebook is that people can use it in whatever way they choose. "I use the site to stay connected with my family [and] to hear news about what's going on," he says. "My sister just got married last year, and she used the site to post photos and videos of her wedding to connect with all the people who couldn't make it. But people are using it all different ways, and it's really exciting to see."
Though Facebook started out as a network for college students, its appeal has reached users of all ages. "People over the age of 30, that group is actually the fastest-growing group on the site," Mark says. "People are even using it to connect with President Obama. He has the most connections out of anyone on the site—almost 6 million. He was using the service throughout his campaign to give people updates about what was going on with the campaign. Even now that he's in office he's using it to connect with supporters about the different packages he's trying to get through."
For adults, part of the Facebook's appeal is that you can easily control who sees what and whom you are friends with. Mark says this is a crucial aspect to the site's success. "One of the biggest differentiators between us and other services is people have complete control over how they share their stuff online, " he says. "You can take a photo album if you want and just share it with the people you went on vacation with. ... Most people don't want to share a lot with a lot of people."
Facebook has gotten so huge, even Oprah decided to get on board! On The Oprah Winfrey Show fan page, you can connect with the show just by hitting the Become a Fan link.
Oprah already has more than 170,000 Facebook friends! "Anyone who is connected can post updates and say what they think about the show," Mark says. "Producers can post anything they want to keep the millions of people who watch updated in real time about what's going on with the show."