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Facebook hits 500 million users, amid questions of ownership

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday the Internet social network he started out of his college dorm room six years has reached 500 million active users around the world.

The much-expected milestone comes amid legal questions over ownership of the firm and a recent consumer survey that showed users aren’t thrilled with the Web site they’ve flocked to in recent years.

In a blog post, Zuckerberg thanked users and the company provided fresh statistics that show those users are spending lots more time on the site, producing content and visiting often. (Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook's board of directors.)

"As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them," Zuckerberg said. "This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world. Now a lot more people have the opportunity to stay connected with the people they care about."

Here are some highlights:

* Half of users get onto Facebook every day.

* The average user has 130 friends.

* A user on average posts photos, links to Web sites, posts videos and news stories or creates other content about 90 times each month.

* 1 million developers have created 550,000 Facebook apps.

* Three out of ten users access Facebook through their mobile phones and those users are twice as active as those who go onto the Web site on their PCs.

The milestone was announced in a blog post and is being accompanied by a Web campaign by the company for users to share their stories. Zuckerberg will be interviewed Wednesday by Diane Sawyer on World News Tonight.

But clouding the picture is a lawsuit by a New York businessman who claims Zuckerberg signed away a big chunk of the company to him before it became the half-billion-member sensation.

Facebook lawyer Lisa Simpson told Judge Richard Arcara, of the U.S. District Court of Buffalo, NY, that the company was “unsure at this moment” whether Zuckerberg signed a contract that purportedly entitles Paul Ceglia 84 percent of Facebook, according to Bloomberg.

At the time, Zuckerberg worked for Paul Ceglia as a software coder. The businessman filed a complaint against Facebook and Zuckerberg in state court in New York’s Allegany County on June 30. Ceglia claims that a contract he and Zuckerberg signed in April 2003 entitles him to ownership of most of the closely held company. Ceglia’s lawyer produced the document Tuesday at a hearing in federal court in Buffalo.

“Whether he signed this piece of paper, we’re unsure at this moment,” Simpson told U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, according to Bloomberg.

Those comments, however, may be taken out of context, according to a source.

"Our intention was to indicate that plaintiff has not produced the original of the alleged agreement for anyone, including the court," Facebook said in a statement. "We have serious questions about the authenticity of the document and, assuming an original exists, we look forward to expressing our opinion about it once we see it."

(Updated at 10:30 p.m.) During a Wednesday night interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News, Zuckerberg said he thought Simpson’s remarks were taken out of context and that the company was certain that no contract had been signed transferring ownership rights to Ceglia.

“We can’t be focused when people try to say things that aren’t true,” he said.

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 21, 2010; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Facebook  
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500 million users and it can't break even.

Anything that hemorrages that much red ink but gets below average user ratings is not a business. I'ld say it was the Tri-Lateral Commission but we should hold off on such a benign conclusion until the user base reaches 666 million.

Posted by: blasmaic | July 21, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"The average user has 130 friends"

Oh, great. With my paltry 25 friends, I'm not even in the "in crowd" on Facebook. :)

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | July 21, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

We tried it, found Facebook serves us no purpose. We don't need our personal data out there for thieves to grab. If we have something to say to our families or friends we'll send an email.

As you might expect, we don't do Sirius, iPod, iPhone, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

Our basic iMacs and old Verizon cell phones suffice just fine.

We use YouTube to watch music videos or post a rare short video clip of horses or blizzards here in COLO. We use photo-bucket to host a lot of pix.

Less is more. Less also means we KEEP more of OUR money -- in OUR pocket.

Posted by: 809212876 | July 21, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Facebook officially reaches the 500 Million User Mark!"


Posted by: cbmuzik | July 21, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The Facebook half-life is over. There is still a purpose or value in creating communities but facebook is simply a bulletin board for meeting notices with real value contained elsewhere. This phenomenon, looking for associations and finding meaning in friend counts has correctly peaked due to lack of intrinsic value. Soon to follow will be the smartphone productivity myth. 500 apps on an Iphone? Who is working, anyone?

Posted by: NewThoughts | July 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Interesting but no tech policy angle.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 22, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are great and
needs to be appreciated by everyone." " rel="dofollow">Stock Investing

Posted by: nieltamarind | July 22, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are great and
needs to be appreciated by everyone."" rel="dofollow">Stock Investing

Posted by: nieltamarind | July 22, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

500 million users, you mean 500 million losers that need to get a life.

Posted by: Classic60 | July 22, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

No useful purpose? Sure there is a lot of "I just did this" status nonsense, but beyond that it's a great tool for keeping in touch with people. I won't group all that don't get it into a certain age category because at first I didn't see the point either. Once you build up a bunch of friends and people use it to post pictures, life events, etc.. it is very useful. I guess it all depends who you are friends with and the content they choose to post. Half of it's users go back to the site every day for some reason!

Posted by: common311 | July 23, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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