Founder and CEO of the social network phenomenon Mark Zuckerberg revealed the milestone on US television yesterday. *MCT photo
Founder and CEO of the social network phenomenon Mark Zuckerberg revealed the milestone on US television yesterday. *MCT photo

FRIDAY, OCT. 5: Despite a troubled  few months, Facebook announced it has passed the one billion users mark.

Founder and CEO of the social network phenomenon Mark Zuckerberg revealed the milestone on US television yesterday.

It’s an impressive feat, yet the company is in the middle of its toughest period since going public in May, a move that saw trading glitches and much-voiced concerns about its revenue potential. The company is also facing lawsuits from unhappy shareholders.

Yesterday’s figure is, therefore, a timely fillip for the site, launched in 2004, which also announced it has reached 1.13 trillion “likes”, 219 billion photos and 17 billion location check-ins.

In a status update, Mr Zuckerberg wrote: “If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honour of serving you. Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

Further statistics reveal there were now 600 million users on Facebook via a mobile device. Since its origins at Harvard University, the site’s users have befriended each other 140.3 billion times.

The backdrop to these figures, though, is that the company is at a critical juncture. Its share price has dropped to $22 from a starting price of $38 and investors are demanding it makes more from its current users as well as expand into parts of the world – like Russia and China – where it has yet to get a grip.

Zuckerberg said in a “Today” show interview: “We’re in a tough cycle now and that doesn’t help morale, but people are focused on what they’re building.”

The ability of Facebook to get a footing in the Asian, Russian and African market is seen as the next major task. In China that means going head to head with RenRen, which has more than 30 million users, amd Twitter-style service Sina Weibo, which has 300 million.

Zuckerberg took a trip to Moscow just last month to meet their Prime Minister in a clear signal of intent. Back home, Zuckerberg is clearly working hard to restore confidence among investors. Personally, he is also under fire, with many on Wall Street doubting whether he has the skills to lead a large public company. “I take this responsibility very seriously,” said Zuckerberg.