Facebook now has 1 billion active users, more than one-third in US get news there

Today.com | Bloomberg Businessweek | Pew
In an appearance on the “Today” show Thursday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network now has 1 billion friends. “Just so we’re clear: As of Sept. 14, one in seven people on this planet has been classified as an active Facebook user,” writes Helen A.S. Popkin. “If Facebook was a country, it would have the third largest population, right behind China (1,347,350,000) and India (1,210,200,000), and ahead of the United States (314,500,000).”

A recent Pew study showed that the percentage of all Americans getting news from Facebook and other social networks has “roughly tripled – from 7% to 20% – since 2010. And the proportion of social networkers who regularly get news there has more than doubled, from 16% to 36%.” The percentage of young adults getting news socially has increased from about 20 percent in 2010 to about 33 percent in 2012. A fact sheet released today shows the median age of Facebook users is now 22. That’s down from August 2008 when the median age peaked at 26. In January of 2006, the median user age was 19.

In an interview with Businessweek, Zuckerberg talked about his plan for news:

The whole vision around News Feed was it should be like a newspaper and shouldn’t just be a list of posts your friends are making. I mean we should be able to really show you interesting trends and things that are happening. There are already trillions of connections between friend requests and all the content that’s being pushed into the system. At some point, that will start to be a better map of how you navigate the Web than the traditional link structure of the Web. I think there’s an opportunity to really build something interesting there.

The bad news for media is that 70 percent of people get news links on Facebook through family and friends, with only 13 percent getting those links through journalists or news organizations.

Understanding why people share content has become more important than ever to journalists and news organizations. The publications that are built around figuring that out, like BuzzFeed, have taken a leap many journalists still fear. The divide no longer simply separates print and digital, new media from old. The new divide is between social and anti-social.

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