The people at facebook are making a lot of noise about reaching 500 million users. It has been pointed out by someone, I forget who, that this is more than the total number of Windows licenses currently installed and activated.
Well I very seriously doubt (sorry for the grammar) that facebook has even 300 million bona-fide active users.
I have two reasons for thinking this:
- There are a huge number of orphaned (abandoned) accounts on facebook. There are two there that are mine where I have set up different accounts on facebook at different times but I use neither of them; and have not used them since the day I set them up.
I would not be surprised if as many as 10 percent of facebook accounts have been orphaned. They will never to be used again by the person who set them up. If, per chance, one of these people does decide to try facebook out again it is most likely they will create yet another new account and use that.
- Secondly, a lot of people who set up facebook accounts set them up only so they can play FarmVille. I know a person who plays a bit of FarmVille—for about 10 hours a day. In order to maximise his primary playing account he has 50 other helper accounts he has created. These are all set up using creative aliases and each of these only exists so that he can set up farms in FarmVille to make stuff that he can then use to assist his primary account.
Having been there many times when he is ‘working’ his farm on FarmVille I know that other players he interfaces with also have multiple facebook/FarmVille accounts so they can do what he is doing.
There is no way the people at facebook can possibly work out which accounts are ‘real’ accounts and which are non-person helper accounts set up for the purposes of progressing faster through FarmVille levels or obtaining more FarmVille goodies.
Hence my view that there is probably more like about 300 million bona-fide facebook accounts; and the count could be much lower. There is no way of telling.