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Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

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Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

Digital Life

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128744227/128744222" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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500 million Facebook users can't be wrong — can they? The social media monolith is only six years old, yet its impact is global. Guest host Audie Cornish takes a look back at how Facebook went from a single college dorm room to the half-billion mark.

AUDIE CORNISH, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. Guy Raz is away. I'm Audie Cornish.

We begin this hour with a milestone like no other. Earlier this week, someone somewhere in the world pulled up a chair to a computer, opened a Web browser, and logged on to Facebook for the very first time. That person was the 500 millionth to register on the site. In a moment, a conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

But first, a little bit about how we got here, how Facebook became a cultural force and changed the way half a billion people communicate. It all started in a dorm room in 2004, as a way to connect with other people at college.

Mr. CHRIS HUGHES (Co-Founder, Facebook.com): Then, you know, later on in the all-freshman dining hall, or at one of those super-awkward ice cream socials, it might be much easier to start up a conversation.

RENEE MONTAGNE: That is Chris Hughes, a junior at Harvard. He is co-founder of the getting-to-know-you website, thefacebook.com.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Thefacebook.com started at Harvard only about seven months ago.

Mr. HUGHES: A book of everyone's little, mini picture and then, like, two or three tidbits of information.

MONTAGNE: It has spread to nearly 70 colleges and universities, almost 200,000 users.

Unidentified Man #1: I like listening to music...

Unidentified Man #2: Basketball.

Unidentified Man #1: ...board games.

Unidentified Man #2: Making cool things out of foil.

Mr. HUGHES: I don't see people sitting around in dorm rooms and dreaming about being friends with people.

MONTAGNE: Reports today suggests that Yahoo may be interested in buying Facebook, that's the social networking website, $1 billion - with a B.

Unidentified Man #3: Well, you know, these social networking sites let people post pictures and create Web page, talk to each other.

STEVE INSKEEP: This is a busy time for the social networking business called facebook.com.

Unidentified Woman #2: Social network.

Unidentified Woman #3: The average user has 130 friends on the site.

Unidentified Man #4: Really, really genuinely...

Mr. DAVID LETTERMAN (Host, "The Late Show with David Letterman"): The Top 10 Signs You're Obsessed With...

Unidentified Woman #4: Hate(ph) Facebook.

Mr. LETTERMAN: ...Facebook.

Unidentified Man #5: The social networks are profoundly changing the definition of what we consider private.

INSKEEP: Starting today, anybody can join, which has provoked a backlash among some members...

Mr. MARK ZUCKERBERG (CEO, Facebook.com): People like exclusivity.

Unidentified Woman #5: Nine million or so people online...

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: You know, that's not something we're going to talk about.

MONTAGNE: Facebook, the website, is inviting technology companies and programmers - add features to the site.

Unidentified Woman #6: Only people at your own school or people you know can see it.

MONTAGNE: They're aiming to overtake MySpace...

Unidentified Woman #6: Sketchy people can get on it now.

MONTAGNE: ...and become the social operating system for the Internet.

Unidentified Woman #7: Its popularity is exploding.

JILLIAN(ph): My name is Jillian, and I am a Facebook addict.

Unidentified Woman #8: Three hundred million active users on Facebook, and about half of them log on, on any given day.

JILLIAN: At first, it was really just Internet thing, like MySpace, which I never really liked...

Unidentified Man #6: This is exploding so quickly...

JILLIAN: ...then I realized that it was a whole lot more.

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Man #7: I love how it lets you update your status - like, with the most insignificant things you're doing in your life.

Ms. BETTY WHITE (Actor): I didn't know what Facebook was.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WHITE: And now that I do know what it is, I have to say it sounds like a huge waste of time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #8: Facebook.

Unidentified Man #9: Facebook.

Unidentified Man #10: This week after just six years, the social networking site Facebook reached...

Unidentified Woman #9: Facebook, everything from...

Unidentified Woman #10: Five hundred million...

Unidentified Woman #11: That's remarkable news.

Unidentified Woman #10: ...that's the mind-boggling number of users...

(Soundbite of voices)

Unidentified Woman #12: With a world without Facebook, I think I would die.

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