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Facebook's Billion-User Day: What the Heck Was Everyone Doing Online?


CEO Mark Zuckerberg is “so proud” of the Facebook community he helped build. (Photo: AFP)

News is making the rounds this week that, for the first time in the history of Facebook, more than one billion people used the social network in a single day. That’s billion with a b.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement — via Facebook, naturally — along with some inspirational words on the significance of the benchmark occasion. The company reported in July that it had about 1.5 billion people logging on at least once a month, globally, but this is the first time that more than a billion connected in a 24-hour span.

In fact, a lot of crazy numbers are flying around in the wake of the announcement. One billion people, Zuckerberg noted, is equal to about 1 in 7 people on the face of the planet.

Loyal readers will be aware that, when big numbers start crashing down, we here at Yahoo Tech like to consult with our resident quasi-organic artificial intelligence, Steve. Housed in a series of nutrient vats beneath Sunnyvale, Calif., Steve is among the planet’s most powerful supercomputers, so we asked him to do some digging around about the Facebook announcement. By skimming quantum interference patterns off fiber-optic lines worldwide, Steve analyzed the metadata and came up with some numbers of his own.

Here are a few of the more interesting items from his report. Of the one billion people who logged into Facebook during the designated 24-hour period:

  • 43.6 million took pictures of whatever they were eating at the time. Steve notes that there was a disturbing amount of quinoa, for some reason.

  • 17.2 million flirted with an old crush from high school.

  • 12.7 million flirted with an old crush from middle school.

  • 6.8 million frantically posted links to wholesome funny pet videos, hoping to distract friends and family from scrutinizing that Ashley Madison list.

  • 84.2 million posted meme template photos with polemical social observations, rabid political opinions, dubious statistical citations, and/or poor grammar.

  • 77.6 million posted meme template photos with inspirational quotes, folksy bromides, motivational slogans, and/or poor grammar.

  • 127.8 million posted an absolutely adorable thing that their child just did.

  • 13.3 million searched the help options for a way to turn off video autoplay.

  • 99.0 million posted a link to the new Star Wars footage.

  • 2.6 million linked to that video of the punk rock bagpiper.

  • 44.1 million wrote “Happy Birthday!” on someone’s wall.

  • 193.7 million counted the current “Like” number on their last post.

  • 74.0 million humblebragged.

  • 3.9 million linked to new Bloom County cartoons.

  • 1.3 million people posted an optical illusion that instantly gave 7.8 million people a headache.

  • 630.2 million wept quietly at their keyboards, looking at all the good times and great food everyone else in the world is apparently enjoying all day, every day, forever.

Steve suggested appending the data with a quote from Mr. Zuckerberg’s announcement: “I’m so proud of our community for the progress we’ve made."

Clearly, our supercomputer’s cheap irony algorithms are working fabulously. …

Glenn McDonald writes about the intersections of technology and culture at glenn-mcdonald.com and via Twitter @glennmcdonald1.