By Ruth Hazard
In a new blog post today iCrossing predicted that the social media giant, Facebook, will have signed up its one billionth user by the 8 August this year.
The digital marketing company used data on Facebook growth since 2008 to set the date that the networking site would reach this milestone.
Facebook last confirmed its number of users at 800 million during a conference in September.
If iCrossing’s prediction is correct, this will mean that one-seventh of humanity will be subscribed to the site by August.
These figures prove that, despite the rapid expansion of social networking over the past five years, Facebook still sets the bar with a fan base that far exceeds that of its competitors.
Last year Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced 100 million active users, only an eight of that of its rival.
Lagging further behind is Google’s social network, G+, which Paul Allen, unofficial traffic analyst for the site, estimates to have 62 million members.
It is thought much of Facebook’s growth will come from emerging markets, such as India and Brazil where membership is rising rapidly.
iCrossing reports that in the past nine months Indian members have risen dramatically — from 22 to 36 million.
Only three per cent of the Indian population is using the site at present, meaning there is still plenty of room for expansion.
However the site has been at the centre of a series of controversies which stand to hinder its future development.
Lawyers for Facebook India were told in a judgement by Delhi High Court last Thursday that unless they develop mechanisms to regulate “offensive and objectionable” material on their web sites, a block will be imposed.
The site has also been banned, with varying degrees of success, in Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Bangladesh on the basis that some content was judged to contain religious discrimination.
This could pose a serious threat to Facebook’s potential expansion. In order to see their membership increase to one billion, the social network is dependent on the take-up rate in countries such as these.
The iCrossing blog post also reveal that, conversely, numbers of new users from the US and UK have slowed or stopped as the market reaches saturation point.
In the future, early-adopting nations are only likely to see an increase in site members as a result of population growth.
Facebook also faces a growing ‘abandonment’ problem in these countries, with a significant rise in the number of members who are choosing to permanently delete their online profile.
Usage in Britain actually fell by more than seven per cent last year, according to a report by The Daily Telegraph.
It cited that Facebook lost almost six million Americans in 2011, 100,000 British users and around 90,000 in both Norway and Russia.
This problem looks set to become more serious. A poll conducted by Sophos, the anti-virus company who work with Facebook on enhancing their security controls, found that 60 percent of users were considering quitting over privacy issues.
The site faced controversy in November 2011 when users reported that hackers had replaced their profile pictures with pornographic images.
The problem was not resolved for over a week, during which users’ news feeds were spammed with pornographic, violent and sexual contents.
Incidents where people using the ‘events application’ unwittingly made their address and telephone number public have exposed them to a wide range of potential crime, such as burglary scams and identity fraud.
So while today’s prediction is undoubtedly good news for the site, it is worth noting that it comes in the same week Search Engine Land blog also reported that more people than ever are searching Google for ways to delete their Facebook accounts.
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