Recently reaching 1 billion active users per month , Facebook is no doubt one of the
most powerful web services. Few of my friends don’t use Facebook, and almost all
connections in my life are established through Facebook. When discussion is needed in, for
example, a class or a club, we always add teammates as friend, build a Facebook group, and
then decide topics, arrange meetings, and check progress almost completely on Facebook.
Other than friendship, each day I get information about newest technology, thoughtful news
or blog articles or funny posts form pages I subscribe. It is fair to say that Facebook has
History and Technology
Facebook was launched in February 2004, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his fel ow
during his school life in Harvard. Some of the history are taken and adapted into movie “The
Social Network.” Although whether the detail is as the movie showed is not sure, Facebook is
probably an inspiration of Mark’s classmates’ project idea.
Facebook was initially written in PHP. It may sound boring and not cool nowadays, but
the LAMP stack was the hottest technology then . LAMP is the abbreviation of Linux,
Apache, MySQL, and PHP, Perl, or Python, and is stil good to use now (though using ruby on
rails or node.js may sound cooler for showing off). However, as Facebook and the data user
uploaded grow so large, it is not that simple now. The front-end programming language is
stil PHP, but is compiled into C++ and compiled with g++ using Facebook’s HipHop Compiler
. PHP is not real y good at efficiency, but C++ is. Doing so can enhance the speed and
performance of web logic execution. Also, Facebook is working on HipHop Interpreter and
HipHop Virtual Machine since compilation time makes updating and maintenance slow .
Facebook is estimated to own more than 60,000 servers, and the hardware is designed
entirely by Facebook themselves . These self-designed machines are to provide better
performance for there are 100 billion hits, 50 billion photos, 3 trillion objects cached per day,
and just the logs use up 130 TB (in 2010, meaning it only gets more now).
More detailed improvements are made to push the limits are described in the link of
reference 3, including lots of self-created systems or software.
As mentioned before, Facebook has 1 bil ion active users per month, meaning that
there are 1 billion people in the world log in to Facebook at least once in a month, more than
one seventh of the population in the earth. This gigantic number is the core foundation of
Facebook, since currently Facebook mainly profit from advertisements.
Moreover, there are 219 bil ion photos and 17 bil ion location check-ins on Facebook .
This data shows how much people like sharing photos and there daily life on Facebook, and
is probably the reason why Facebook recently acquired Instagram and TagTile. The former is
a company that made a popular app Instagram, allowing users to take a picture with their
smart phones, add some special effects and upload to social networks. Instagram was
acquired with 1 billion USD. The latter is a small company that provides check-in discount
service. When a customer walks into a store and check in, he gets some discount, and the
Another noticeable number is that, among the 1 bil ion users, there are 600 mil ion
people access Facebook through their mobile devices . This shows the trend of mobile
devices and explains why Facebook, although a little bit late for some users, largely rewrote
their iOS app, using native Objective C instead of slow HTML5. It is predictable that Facebook
will continually improve user experience on mobile devices.
Although their profit is still not stable, the revenue of Facebook is growing . With the
great number of users, Facebook is still a great and healthy company.
Impacts and Problems
The most obvious impact that Facebook brings is the change of social life. Before
Facebook, people might chat with MSN, post with Blogger, and share photos with several
different kinds of web albums, but now, these can al be done on Facebook. Furthermore,
people can now update little things happened in life with just a few words, which is a new
way of sharing since there were no such platform then (blog posts are often too long to
It seems like Facebook is getting people tighter and making life better. However, some
argues that Facebook actually alienates us . Common arguments are that Facebook
consumes our time of real social life, or that most friends on Facebook are just nodding
acquaintance. Some even argue that spending too much time on Facebook is like
However, in my opinion, this is just a matter of life style. Is spending 1 hour a
day playing basketbal addiction and unhealthy? Why would talking through
telephones be better than chatting on Facebook? There is nothing wrong with
Facebook itself, but rather it is how people choose to arrange their time that is
important. If one thinks that Facebook gives him valuable information and happiness,
then there is no need to change. On the contrary, if one feel lonely and empty after
reading and liking his friends status and photos, then he might need to consider
cutting down the amount of time on Facebook.
Facebook did change the Internet and influenced many people’s life. It may not really
change the world – there are stil poverty, wars, and disasters on the earth - but it did build a
new world, for people to share and connect.
 “Facebook surpasses one billion users as it tempts new markets“, BBC News, 5 October
 “Would Facebook still use PHP if it could choose again over other languages?”,
 “What is Facebook's architecture? ”, Michaël-Figuière on Quora, 10 Jan 2011,
 “The HipHop Virtual Machine”, Jason Evans, 10 December 2011
 “Facebook Delivers an Earnings Letdown”, The New York Times, July 26 2012,
 “Social Media 正摧毀我們現實生活的人際關係！？”, Jerry Chien on TechOrange, 15 June 2012,
 “Five clues that you are addicted to Facebook”, Elizabeth Cohen on CNN, April 23, 2009,
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