Who knew that providing a place for uploading vacation
photos and YouTube links could be so profitable? Facebook apparently earned as
much as $800 million in 2009, according to two
unnamed sources quoted by Reuters
. Despite pressure from outside investors
to launch an IPO, the social-networking site has remained privately held.
That $800 million represents a marked increase from earlier
estimates, which included Facebook board member Marc
Andreessen suggesting the company would make $500 million in 2009.
every reason to expect in my view that the thing can be doing billions in
revenue five years from now," the entrepreneur and Netscape founder told
Reuters at the time.
While the number of Facebook users has only increased over
information. On June 16, privacy advocates sent an open letter to Facebook CEO
Mark Zuckerberg, detailing a six-point plan to give the social-networking
site's users more control over their personal information. The concerns
included "empowering users to decide exactly which applications can access their
personal information." Those advocates, including the Electronic Privacy
Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern
California, called on Facebook to "demonstrate [its] commitment to the
principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share."
retorted with an open letter
to that open letter, stating, "We plan to
continue to make control easy and effective for all the people who use our
service and will continue to engage those groups and others in a constructive
dialogue about these important issues." Refuting the advocates' issues
point-by-point, Facebook tried to portray the more controversial portions of
its service, including the "instant personalization" feature that provides user
information to partners such as Pandora, as "widely misunderstood."
Facebook's missive also mentions "a new data permission
model" that is "scheduled to launch to all developers in the coming
points out an option to "completely turn off Platform applications and
Websites, so that none of [users'] information is ever shared with
applications, even information otherwise available to everyone."
Privacy concerns related to social networking will likely
increase in coming years, as more and more users gravitate toward such
to new data from Nielsen
, Internet users spent some 22 percent of their
online time on networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The average
visitor apparently spent almost 6 hours on such sites in April, compared to 3
hours, 31 minutes in April 2009. Facebook greatly outpaced other services, in
terms of occupying users' social-networking time online.