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Status update: Facebook has 2 billion users. Can it reach 3 billion?

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SAN FRANCISCO — It's the biggest status update ever from Mark Zuckerberg: Two billion people — nearly a quarter of the world's population — hang out on Facebook at least once a month.

The milestone that Zuckerberg announced Tuesday is all the more remarkable because no other Internet company has ever reached it. If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous.

"As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!" he said in a Facebook post announcing the milestone. "It's an honor to be on this journey with you."

Yet in an interview at his company's Silicon Valley headquarters, the Facebook CEO downplayed the significance of reaching 2 billion users, instead focusing on what the giant social network has yet to accomplish: Wiring the entire planet.

"What we really care about is being able to connect everyone. So two billion, there wasn't as much fanfare around it," he said. "We still haven't connected everyone."

Zuckerberg is faced with a daunting challenge: How to keep growing when a huge chunk of people connected to the Internet already use Facebook. The next billion will be a lot tougher to wrangle than the first two because not everyone in the world has an Internet connection and a few parts of the world are off limits to Facebook.

"The first billion is easy. The second billion is somewhat harder. Getting past that is going to be even more of a challenge," said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. "Part of it is the law of large numbers and part of it is that there are still places in the world where Facebook is blocked or people don't have access to the Internet to get on Facebook."


Some two-thirds of the world's population are not on the Internet. About 15% of people live in remote regions that have no access. In other places, people have Internet access but can't afford it or they have simple feature phones or cheap smartphones with spotty connections.

Of the 3 billion people who are the Internet, about 700 million are in China. Facebook is trying to set the stage for a return to China where it's been blocked since 2009. Another challenge: In some places, Facebook hasn't managed to wrest a majority of users from local social networks.

"I do think these are large shifts that are good moments to reflect on what our responsibility is in the world and what things we can uniquely do," Zuckerberg told USA TODAY of leapfrogging the 2 billion user mark.

Recognizing the difficulty ahead, last week Facebook changed its mission statement for the first time. After a decade of promoting Facebook as a service that connects small groups of friends and family, Facebook is broadening its focus for the next decade to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

"Our mission is to bring the world closer together," Naomi Gleit, Facebook's vice president of social good, said in a blog post announcing the 2 billion user milestone. "Reaching this milestone is just one small step towards that goal."

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Muslim Global: Status update: Facebook has 2 billion users. Can it reach 3 billion?
Status update: Facebook has 2 billion users. Can it reach 3 billion?
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