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Digital deluge

»Facebook is likely to cross one billion users any day now. The social networking site, launched just eight years ago, is now all set to cover a seventh of the world’s humanity.

Besides showing the speed and scale, a well-executed idea can achieve online, it also hints at the data deluge that awaits the industry.

According to GigaOm, 2.5 billion content items are being shared on Facebook everyday. These include status updates, wall posts, photos, videos, comments and so on. Of these, photos account for 300 million content items. These trigger 2.7 billion Likes per day. Facebook holds this data in large data centres. One of Facebook’s larger data centres holds 100+ petabytes of data.  “(A petabyte is the equivalent of a stack of DVDs stretching from here to the moon, says GigaOm.)

This data is a rich goldmine for Facebook to understand emerging consumer trends. To analyse this mountain of information, Facebook scans 105 terabytes of data every 30 minutes. It executes 70,000 daily queries on its databases, which grow at the rate of  500+ terabytes of new data.

Facebook is slowing down as it has reached the saturation point in the Western markets. According to Comscore, the number of Facebook’s unique visitors in the US grew by just 5% to reach 158 million in April. In the last two preceding years it had grown by 89% (April 2010) and 24% (April 2011).

The growth in the time spent on Facebook is also declining. In April 2012, Facebook users spent more than six hours a month on the site, up 16% from a year earlier. But the growth was 57% (April 2010) and 23% (April 2011). “We’re growing fast, but everyone else is growing faster,”  Jay Parikh, VP of infrastructure at Facebook told GigaOm.  

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