In 2009 the social networking site saw incredible growth, going from 50 million users worldwide in January to more than 350 million in less than 12 months. However, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, 25, has realised that the biggest difficulty is how to manage the privacy of users while growing so fast.
With so much personal information kept on its servers, it is coming under increasing scrutiny from governments and campaign groups. Earlier this year Facebook spent $9.5m (£5.9m) settling a lawsuit over an intrusive advertising system launched in 2007, and last month it made a series of changes that exposed millions of people’s information to the world.
The changes angered privacy advocates and led to a petition being sent to the US regulator. To combat such threats to its future, Facebook has spent the past year hiring a team of lobbyists in Washington and Brussels to push its cause with politicians.
“It’s definitely an interesting time,” Justin Smith, whose Inside Facebook website has tracked the network’s ups and downs for nearly four years, told The Guardian. “While 2009 was a year in which Facebook saw really incredible growth… we’ll see how they manage that growth.”