Industries in Depth

Facebook is about to hit 2 billion users. Here’s a closer look at the rise of the social giant

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, California April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam - RTX29NQI

A little over 10 years ago Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took what was initially a social network for US college students and opened it up to the entire planet. Image: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

John McKenna
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Facebook is fast approaching the point at which it will be used regularly by a third of the planet.

In its results for the first quarter of 2017, the company said it had 1.94 billion monthly active users -- 17% more than a year earlier.

Image: Statista

Today Facebook is a household name but rewind the clock 13 years and few outside US colleges had heard of it. Here's a timeline of the rise of the world's most popular social network.

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The rise of a social juggernaut

2004 0-1 million users

Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, Andrew McCollum and Eduardo Saverin launch, a social network for US college students. 1 million are active on the network by the end of the year.

Image: Facebook

2005 6 million users officially drops “the” and becomes Facebook. Adds US high school and international school networks.

2006 12 million users

Facebook expands registration beyond high school and college students so anyone, anywhere can join the network.

2007 58 million users

Marketplace, Facebook Ads, video and mobile platform all launch.


2008 150 million users

Spanish version of the platform and iPhone application launch, alongside the introduction of the chat function.

2009 360 million users

The “Like” button is launched.

2010 600 million users

Construction begins on a custom-built data centre in Oregon, and Facebook Places launches.

The server room at Facebook’s Prineville data center, Oregon.
Image: Facebook

2011 845 million users

Oregon data centre opens, Video Calling and Facebook for iPad are introduced.

2012 Over 1 billion users

Facebook passes the 1 billion user mark in October 2012. Earlier in the year, the company acquires Instagram and launches on the NASDAQ stock market.

2013 1.23 billion users

Donate button launches, and Instagram passes 100 million users.

2014 1.39 billion users

Trending function launches and Facebook announces acquisitions of WhatsApp and Oculus.

2015 1.59 billion users

Messenger application launches as well as Live video for public figures.

2016 1.86 billion users. Facebook Live is rolled out to all users, and Messenger passes 1 billion monthly users.

 Facebook messenger monthly users to Apr 17
Image: Statista

2017 Facebook confirms it expects to pass 2 billion monthly users in 2017. The company begins a crackdown on fake news after being accused of failing to tackle the problem during elections.

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