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Making Friends

Facebook still has lots of room to grow.

With three-quarters of its 500 million users outside the United States, Facebook has spread to every corner of the globe. But there are still plenty of people who have yet to be lured into the social network—and could be soon. As this graph shows, Facebook is only just beginning to ripple through the populations of such large countries as India and Brazil. It is also still a minor player in Japan and South Korea. And it is banned in China, the biggest Web market of all. For most of its first six years, Facebook was largely able to sit back and let its audience expand naturally, thanks to the power of the network effect. But it now has to work harder to establish a presence in markets like Japan and South Korea, which—partly because those countries already have successful homegrown Web services—have been hard for western companies to crack. However, one success story suggests that the company can do well in East Asia. In Taiwan, which also has a well-established Web ecosystem and is similar to Japan and South Korea in terms of broadband connectivity and technical literacy, nearly a third of all residents and half of all Internet users have a Facebook account. One factor in the growth has been a ready supply of social games for Taiwanese to play on Facebook. Such games are often created by developers in mainland China, even though the government prevents most of their countrymen from playing them.

The Road to Half a Billion: Over the past two years, Facebook has been solidifying its international presence. It has crowdsourced the translation of its site into dozens of languages, opened new offices abroad, and launched Facebook Zero, a stripped-down version aimed at countries where people are more likely to connect using a cell phone than a PC. (Download a PDF of the infographic)
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