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Facebook Passes 350 Million Users, Big Changes Coming

facebook_lJust the other week, we told that if Facebook were a nation, it’s population would be much larger than the United States.  While that remains true, Facebook’s population seems to be exploding.  Late last night, Facebook CEO & Founder Mark Zuckerberg had sent out an open letter to all of it’s users.  While we reported less than a month ago, that Facebook had 325 million users, Zuckerberg officially announced the site has more than 350 million users.  That is a tremendous increase just within the past month alone. 

Facebook has seen it’s number’s grow drastically this year, more than doubling in population.  Taking a look back, in August of 2008, the popular social networking site had just 100 million users.  It then took nearly 5 months for Facebook to gain 50 million users.  Since then, the site has grown on average 50 million users every 3-4 months.  This year alone, Facebook has gained 200 million users, and there are no signs of slowing down.

facebookchartWhile Zuckerberg is happy with the growth of Facebook, he notes changes are needed within Facebook.  He most specifically targeted privacy settings. 

The social networking site, has always ran off of ‘networks’.  Networks are currently based off of colleges, countries, and regions/cities.  Zuckerberg explained, “[Networks] worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.”

But since Facebookis more than just college students now, millions of people are on regional networks, the idea of which it was created is now irrelevant.  Facebook has been a leader in social media privacy since the early era, allowing users to choose how secure they want their settings to be. 

“The plan we’ve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone,” said Zuckerberg.  He goes onto say that they have been in the process of removing regional networks in the past few weeks.

Here is a copy of Zuckerberg’s letter.

It has been a great year for making the world more open and connected. Thanks to your help, more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online.

 

To make this possible, we have focused on giving you the tools you need to share and control your information. Starting with the very first version of Facebook five years ago, we’ve built tools that help you control what you share with which individuals and groups of people. Our work to improve privacy continues today.

 

Facebook’s current privacy model revolves around “networks” — communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

 

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.

 

However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we’ve concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.

 

The plan we’ve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.

 

We’re adding something that many of you have asked for — the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we’ll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings. If you want to read more about this, we began discussing this plan back in July.

 

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we’ll ask you to review and update your privacy settings. You’ll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings. When you’re finished, we’ll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you. As always, once you’re done you’ll still be able to change your settings whenever you want.

 

We’ve worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone’s needs are different. We’ll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself. I encourage you to do this and consider who you’re sharing with online.

 

Thanks for being a part of making Facebook what it is today, and for helping to make the world more open and connected.

 

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo’s have also be released of a possible new design for Facebook’s ever changing news feed, and user homepage.  User’s just saw a change in the homepage a few months ago but the new design is supposed to simplify Facebook, allowing users to search through private messages, and bring Facebook’s instant messaging service to the top of the page.  Facebook has said they were trying to develop a simpler homepage, but also wouldn’t confirm if any of the images were from the company.

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