Facebook at 1 billion users: The mother of big data problems?

Facebook at 1 billion users: The mother of big data problems?

Summary: Facebook has hit the saturation point. What the company does with those 1 billion users---and all the data they cough up every second---will be far more important than landing the next billion people.


Facebook hit the 1 billion user milestone and the company has released a bevy of statistics for the occasion.

  • 219 billion photos uploaded (excluding deleted ones) and 265 billion including them.
  • 17 billion location tagged posts and check-ins.
  • 600 million mobile users.
  • An average user age of 22.

But all those stats show is near-total saturation. Future growth and monetization are big question marks.

What Facebook may need to answer those questions is the mother of all big data projects. Facebook has so much information on people. It knows damn near everything about you. Yet Facebook isn't a direct marketing powerhouse. Ad revenue is nice, but could be so much more.

TechLines Live Webcast: Big Data Debunked -- Finding the Data Signals

Facebook has the same problem many enterprises have: Too much information and no clue what data is most important. Facebook should be a cash cow. The secret sauce lies somewhere in all that user data. Facebook has to find it in a way that doesn't annoy users.

It's a fascinating conundrum. One thing is certain though---1 billion users is a nice accomplishment. What Facebook decides to do with those users---and the data they cough up every second---will be much more important.


Topics: Big Data, TechLines, Social Enterprise

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  • One question

    when they say "1 billion users"...
    -- Are they including "corporations" with profiles on Facebook (i.e. you can "Like" the Facebook page of places like Wal-Mart or Target, government agencies, Chambers of Commerce & Tourism Boards, etc.)?
    -- Are they including all profiles, whether or not they belong to the same individual or not (i.e. someone creates their profile under 1 email, then either decide to create a 2nd one or don't like the 1st profile so they "recreate" a new one)?
    -- Are they including all profiles that have ever been created, or just the currently active ones?
    -- Are they including the "illegal" profiles that parents have created for their under-13 children (thinking "it's so cute that I can post their pictures there for them!"), or that under-13 children have created without their parents' knowledge?