NPR logo

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

Digital Life

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Milestone

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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.


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, 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,

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: 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

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, 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.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.