Facebook celebrates birthday and five years of friends

As it overshadows social network pioneer MySpace, Facebook notes major milestone

Facebook Inc. is celebrating a major milestone today -- its fifth birthday.

Since Feb. 4, 2004, the social networking site has brought together millions of friends. Late last month, online research firm ComScore Inc. announced that it had found that Facebook has stormed past rival MySpace.com, the pioneer of the social networking phenomenon, in monthly page-view counts. Facebook, once thought of as the up-and-coming social network, had almost 222 million unique visitors in December, while MySpace came in at 125 million.

Now, with a fifth anniversary under its belt, Facebook has even more to celebrate.

"This is a happy occasion for Facebook, but much more significant to the Facebook team is the fact that over 150 million people around the world are using Facebook to connect with the people in their lives," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post. "Facebook was founded in 2004 to give people the tools to engage and understand the world around them. We are glad and humbled that so many people are using Facebook in this way."

Facebook is celebrating its own birthday by giving users a surprise gift that can be sent to their friends on the site. The gift is slated to be available in the Facebook Gift Shop. "In the spirit of celebrating connections between people, we encourage you to use this gift to give thanks to your friends, colleagues and family members with whom you are connected on Facebook," wrote Zuckerberg.

To note Facebook's birthday, Internet monitoring firm Hitwise Pty. Ltd. released statistics about the company today.

Hitwise noted that Facebook last month had the fifth-highest market share of all Web sites, doubling from 15% in January 2008 to 31% last month. The firm also noted that the average time users spend on Facebook was a little more than 21 minutes last month.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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