Facebook released a demographic study of its 350 million user. The upshot: Facebook isn't just for white and Asian people anymore.
In fact, Facebook's demographics resemble the base of Internet users. That finding makes a lot of sense because Facebook, like AOL way back when and Google today, represents a proxy for the Internet and population overall. If you're on the Internet you've probably stumbled on Facebook. In the early days of Facebook, the site was dominated by white and Asian folks.
In a note, Facebook walks through its analysis and how it compared surnames of users with U.S. Census Bureau. By analyzing surnames, Facebook cooks up a racial breakdown over the history of the site.
Facebook acknowledges that the surname analysis isn't perfect, but in aggregate the results are accurate.
Aside from handing out a few nice links to the U.S. Census Genealogy Project and Networked Nation report, there's another message embedded in Facebook's report: You can carve the user base and target ads by race.
The future of Facebook's business model revolves around social advertising, but the treasure trove of data from its users may be the most valuable asset here. An advertiser looking at Facebook is bound to wonder about ethnic targeting and consider the company a player.