NEW YORK — More than a billion people now log into Facebook each month to check up on old friends, tag photos of new ones and post about politics, religion, their cats or kids.
That's double the 500 million it hit in July 2010. August 2008 also hit a major mark, 100 million users.
The latest milestone amounts to nearly half of the world's roughly 2.5 billion Internet users, as measured by the International Telecommunications Union.
Most of these people — 81 percent — live outside the U.S. and Canada. Many log in on mobile devices rather than personal computers, and Facebook has 600 million mobile users.
People joining now are young, with a median age of 22. It was 23 in 2010, and 26 in 2008 and 2007. Most are from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. Few are from China, the world's most populous country and home to its largest Internet population. And millions of them are not actual people. Facebook acknowledged in August that 8.7 percent of its then-955 million users may be duplicate or false accounts. At that rate, as many as 87 million accounts are fake.
As expected, the longer users are on Facebook, the more “friends” they have on the site. A user who signed up two years ago has an average of 305 friends. Someone who signed up in December 2005, when Facebook had nearly 6 million users, now has nearly 600 friends, on average.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg marked the milestone on his Facebook page, as he has in the past when the site's users hit nice round numbers.
“If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you,” he wrote. “Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”
But he acknowledged in a “Today” show interview that the company is going through a difficult patch. “We're in a tough cycle now and that doesn't help morale, but people are focused on what they're building,” he told Matt Lauer during the interview.