Facebook Timeline

In terms of traffic, Facebook is the largest social networking site on the web.

System Specifications

  • Bandwidth (Why Medium?): Facebook doesn’t need a large amount of bandwidth to handle its enormous amount of traffic. The bandwidth has probably increased only slightly due to the recent additions of more complicated features and applications, but even still, Facebook isn’t sending too much information to users.
  • CPU (Why Low?): Because most of the Facebook interface is links leading to static pages containing text or images, Facebook does not generate anything that requires too much CPU power except for its indexes.
  • Disk (Why High?): The amount of information Facebook is storing is only getting higher and higher. Storing the personal information, pictures, and applications for over 800 million people requires an extremely large amount of hard drive space.
  • RAM (Why High?): Facebook is all about retrieving information about people and displaying it for a short amount of time. In order to recall all of that data quickly, Facebook uses a copious amount of RAM.
  • Scalability (Why High?): Facebook is continuously adding servers to its data centers. As the membership grows and information increases, Facebook stays ahead of the growth by building more data centers and making its server architecture as efficient as possible.


In terms of traffic, the second largest social networking site on the web is Facebook, after MySpace. More significantly, Facebook has been gaining market share as well as a supportive user base, focused mainly on high school to college-aged students. As of 2010, Facebook had obtained over 500 million active users worldwide.

Most people are at least familiar with the history of Facebook, especially since the 2010 release of The Social Network, which chronicles the stories of Facebook creators Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. Originally, it was a hobby project dubbed thefaceboook that ballooned into a phenomenon, spreading across the Harvard campus and eventually campuses nationwide, including Stanford and Yale. It’s reported that the domain facebook.com was purchased for $200,000 in August 2005.

Surveys & Studies
A 2005 survey conducted internally by Facebook revealed that approximately 85% of students in the supported colleges had a Facebook account and at least 60% of them were logging in daily. Other surveys conducted by third parties showed that 90% of all undergraduates in the U.S. used a social networking site regularly, including Facebook or MySpace, 76% never clicked on the ads, and that Facebook is the 7th most trafficked site in the U.S.

Business & Funding
Four years ago, Facebook was in a financially stable position, given the precarious situation other social networks were facing at the time. It hadn’t managed to get acquired like its competitor MySpace, but it had received significant funding from the co-founder of PayPal, Accel Partners, and Greylock Partners, to the tune of approximately $40 million collectively. As an ad-supported website, Facebook’s services are completely free.

Lawsuits & Concerns
Facebook’s first lawsuit came from ConnectU, a similar social networking site whose roots could also be traced back to Harvard. ConnectU alleged that the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, stole the source code while in their employment. The lawsuit almost shut Facebook down, but was eventually dismissed after Zuckerberg denied the allegation. Now Facebook’s legal concerns center largely on privacy issues, as all user content posted on Facebook becomes the property of the networking site.

The Service
Users of Facebook create profiles containing personal information, status updates, photos, and wall where friends can post comments. Privacy settings have evolved such that not such anyone can view a user’s information or post comments; access is monitored by the user. Users can also create groups and events, and, in general, stay actively connected with friends, relatives, acquaintances, peers, politicians, civic organizations, and most anything and anyone you can think of.

Facebook Developers
In 2006, Facebook offered a free Developers API called Facebook Developers. Essentially, it gives anyone access to Facebook’s internals and let programmers create widgets, mashups, tools and projects based on Facebook, like the wildly popular MafiaWars and Farmville applications.

Modular and Open Architecture
Facebook has over 15,000 third party applications built on its platform, besides the thirteen basic Facebook applications, which number is increasing at 140 new applications per day. Technically, because Facebook is based on a modular architecture design and operates on LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), a free and open source software stack, it is possible for third party developers to build new applications. Modular and open architecture is the key strength of Facebook, which has enabled it to effectively exploit the network and rapidly gain market share over incumbents such as MySpace and Friendster.

Servers & Hosting
According to Jeff Rothschild, the vice president of technology at Facebook, there are 30,000 servers supporting its operations. Keep in mind this number was released in 2009 and is more than likely to have risen significantly; hence, their recent plans to construct a brand new data center in Prineville, Oregon, expected completion date 2011.

The Future
Facebook has seen monstrous success in the seven years since is 2004 launch. Its features and tools are appealing and addictive. All things considered, Facebook users have every reason to believe that their favorite site will remain a dominating force on the internet for many more years to come.


Amazon.com. “The Social Network (2010).” IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/ (accessed December 5, 2010).

Arrington, Michael. “85% of College Students use FaceBook.” TechCrunch. http://techcrunch.com/2005/09/07/85-of-college-students-use-facebook/ (accessed December 6, 2010).

McGrath, Kristin. “Status update: Facebook logs 500 million members.” USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2010-07-21-facebook-hits-500-million-users_N.htm (accessed December 6, 2010).

Miller, Rich. “Facebook Now Has 30,000 Servers.” Data Center Knowledge. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/10/13/facebook-now-has-30000-servers/ (accessed December 6, 2010).

Perez, Sarah. “Facebook Growth Explodes, Site Reaches 140 Million Active Users.” ReadWriteWeb. http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_growth_explodes.php (accessed December 6, 2010).

Thibodeau, Patrick. “Prineville, Ore., pop. 10,000, is Facebook’s new friend.” Computerworld. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9147318/Prineville_Ore._pop._10_000_is_Facebook_s_new_friend (accessed December 6, 2010).

“Timeline.” Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?timeline (accessed December 5, 2010).

Williams, Chris. “Facebook wins Manx battle for face-book.com.” The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/01/facebook_domain_dispute (accessed December 5, 2010).

Yadav, Sid. “Facebook – The Complete Biography.” Mashable. http://mashable.com/2006/08/25/facebook-profile/ (accessed December 5, 2010).