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About Face

Facebook has reached new heights of popularity, but some say using the site has consequences.

As of January, Facebook has become the world’s most used social networking Web site, according to the web analytics company The previous site with that title, MySpace, had approximately 810 million visits.

Facebook is no longer purely the domain of college students. According to the site’s usage statistics, college students make up less than half of all users, and the fastest growing demographic is over 30 years old.

Photo: Hallie Stiller
No longer just the domain of college students, Facebook now allows anyone to sign up.

Additionally, Facebook reports that more than 70 percent of its users live outside the United States. In some countries, it competes with their homegrown social networking companies, such as Xiaonei (China), StudiVZ (Germany) and Bebo (UK). But Facebook has surpassed the visitor counts of these sites in many cases.

Facebook was the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, then a senior at Harvard University. He founded the site in 2004 as a hobby and a way to keep Harvard students connected. It spread to Stanford and Yale the following month. By the following year, the site supported more than 800 college networks.

While many users enjoy the ability to add and keep track of friends on Facebook, critics have raised concerns. They worry that the site is becoming too addictive and that posting personal information online poses risks.

“I know of disclosures about substance abuse that have come back to haunt students,” wrote Michael Bugeja, the director of Iowa State University’s journalism school, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He also worried about the prevalence of fictitious profiles on the site.

Facebook administrators, for their part, delete profiles that other users identify as fake. But with visits to the site passing the 1 billion mark, it’s hard to control what happens.

More on the Web:

- Report

- Map of the World's Most Popular Social Networking Sites

- Facebook Timeline

- Facebook User Statistics



Facebook is so fun and awkward at the same time, which makes it fun and very interesting. I find that I know things about people who I don't talk too that I wouldn't know otherwise. This will make my high school reunion way less awkward, and I'm a fan of that.

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