Facebook Turns 12: Here’s How the Social Media Giant Has Grown

In the dozen years since Facebook was founded, the social networking site has grown into a global gathering place for some 1.59 billion active users every month. During that time, it's also made waves for everything from its ambitious efforts to bring billions of unconnected people onto the Internet to its testing of "massive-scale emotional contagion" -- a 2012 experiment that manipulated users' emotions without their knowledge.

All that, and it's not even a teenager yet.

Each year, Facebook marks its February 4 birthday by observing "Friends Day," a call to "celebrate and reflect on the importance of connecting." This year, the social media giant even unveiled new research on how its existence has changed the notion that we're all separated from one another by only six people (i.e., the "six degrees of separation"). The reality is that any one Facebook user, it turns out, is separated from any other user by only 3.57 degrees of separation, the company's data scientists announced today.

5 Billion Users by 2030?

Since Facebook first debuted in 2004 as "Thefacebook" -- a program to help students at Harvard University connect with one another -- co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above, center) has made it increasingly clear that his ambitions for the company go far beyond its current 1.59 billion users.

During the company's F8 developers' conference las year, Zuckerberg said his goal was to eventually connect "everybody" through not only Facebook, but through a whole family of Facebook-connected apps, services and tools -- eventually, even through virtual reality technologies.

During an event to mark this year's Friends Day, Zuckerberg told employees he would like to see the company have 5 billion users by 2030, according to a report today in USA Today.

One program focused on that goal -- Facebook's Internet.org (now named "Free...

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