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

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.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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.

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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.


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