Facebook is a social networking site, which was first launched in 2004. The site is owned and operated privately and has grown to be the world's largest social network.
In order to use Facebook, individuals must register for an account, after which they build a profile and then select other users as friends. They can subsequently exchange messages and updates with these friends, sharing photos, links, videos and more.
Number of users. As of December 2011, Facebook had more than 845 million active users, according to the ZDNet website. On average, more than 480 million users are active on the site. This includes individuals, celebrities, businesses and brands. As the site has grown and developed, more and more users have signed up to take advantage of the site's far-reaching access to a wide pool of users.
Type of user. Facebook users include individuals, celebrities, businesses and brands. Each of these user groups has access to a variation on the standard profile. Some of the most famous users include Lady Gaga, whose page has been liked more than 48 million times, and the U.S. president, Barack Obama, whose page has seen more than 25 million likes.
Reasons for success. Facebook's success can be partly attributed to the fact that it is free to register and use this site. For individuals, this means that anybody with Internet access can enjoy the site, and for brands and businesses, there is no financial outlay for a tool that can be used to reach out to millions of potential customers. Facebook also offers a large number of different features and is regularly updated to offer more. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is now the first choice for most potential users, who will know that the majority of their friends are likely to be registered already.
Popular features. As reported by the Chartered Institute of IT, Facebook recently introduced a redesigned home page for users, called Timeline, which sorts and displays status updates and posts in chronological order. This is intended to create a record of the user's life. For the first time since the site was launched, users may not post photos and create events in the past. The Timeline also features a large new photo option at the top of the page, which enhances the visual appeal of a profile.
Other popular features. The site also allows access to a number of different applications, including popular games. Farmville, for example, is a successful "simulation" game, which allows users to share gaming experiences, collect virtual items and interact with their Facebook friends. The instant/video messaging tool Skype and the free music listening service Spotify are now also incorporated within the site and are accessible via the main account log-in.