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Facebook is the world's largest social network. It recently passed the 400m registered user mark and is now the a top five web property according to comScore.

But Facebook is fast becoming more than just the world's largest social network. With 5bn pieces of content being shared every week, and a whopping 60m status updates being post each week, Facebook can no longer be classified as a simple 'social network'.

While some, myself included, have been skeptical about Facebook management's apparent fixation on becoming more like Twitter, the numbers don't lie: Facebook is gaining traction as a content sharing and discovery tool. Which is, of course, what Twitter really is.

While the growth in the amount of content being shared and number of status updates being posted on Facebook is partly due to Facebook's perpetual growth machine, I think Facebook's focus on encouraging these activities is likely playing a role. Obviously, Facebook and Twitter are not playing a zero sum game. There are still significant differences between the two services. But Twitter should be worried about Facebook's potential as a content sharing and discovery powerhouse.

That's because while Twitter has established itself as a mainstream phenomenon, it hasn’t been able to sustain its growth as well as Facebook has. And a relatively small number of users are responsible for much of the activity. What Twitter offers that Facebook doesn’t is pure simplicity. That’s certainly part of its appeal, but it’s also a vulnerability. For casual users who are interesting in sharing content and posting status updates more occasionally, Facebook may be a more logical tool. That poses a threat to Twitter’s future prospects.

But Twitter isn’t the only company that should be worried about Facebook’s meteoric rise. Web giants like Google and Yahoo have reason to be concerned too. After all, Facebook is looking like the new portal. It has redefined the internet experience for the millions of people who go to Facebook first when they fire up their web browsers. That's because Facebook has become many things to many people. Interested in keeping up with friends? You can do that. Want to play games? You can do that too. Looking to find out what's going on in the world? Numbers wise, Facebook is now even a rival to Google News.

The big question is how big Facebook can get, and how much it can offer, before it collapses under its own weight. Focus is important, and "you can't be all things to all people" is as good a rule as any when building web products. Facebook's success defies this logic, but perhaps it's simply too big to fail.

Photo credit: 7son75 via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 10 February, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Andy

In the near future I believe the next thing to replace twitter will be the foursquare phenomenon- more specifically geo-tagging using mobile phones. I have only been using it 2 weeks and am already addicted mainly because I have gained a lot of useful tips/recommendations.

If Facebook could get its marketplace to rival Gumtree/ Ebay and also implement Geo tagging I think it would become unstoppable!

over 6 years ago

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TechGlobeX

Facebook changing its style quite many times and recently it has changed its homepage. I think in near future it will overtakes all Social Media websites including twitter.

over 6 years ago

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James Read

I've thought about this for a while now. As with any growth area, consolidation occurs at some time and you see a few big players taking control.  Technology is meant to simplify and converge so it makes sense that people will prefer to use a smaller number of tools.

One challenge may be the separation of social and professional worlds.  I find Twitter useful in my professional life but not so much in my social life.  If Facebook is going to further develop into the dominant force in online social tools then perhaps it will have to split these two worlds.

In summary, Facebook have an extremely strong position, similar to YouTube, and if they make the correct moves then their dominance should only increase and their offering become more beneficial to users.

over 6 years ago

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ian aka @StellasKid

Call me an idiot but how is Facebook the new Twitter? Twitter built a platform by focusing only on the Status Update aspect of Facebook, no? If anything, it should be the other way around: Twitter is the new stripped-down Facebook!

over 6 years ago

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Gulsene

I've thought about this for a while now. As with any growth area, consolidation occurs at some time and you see a few big players taking control. Technology is meant to simplify and converge so it makes sense that people will prefer to use a smaller number of tools

over 6 years ago

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Ana Boks

Why facebook changing its style frquently.Recently facebook has changed its homapge templates.Facebook has 500 million users.Have you think about it?

about 5 years ago

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