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Over the last year, traffic to Twitter, the microblogging service used by celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross as well as US president Barack Obama, has increased by 1191 per cent, while traffic to Facebook has grown just 110 per cent, according to industry analysts Hitwise. Facebook, which is celebrating its fifth birthday today, is facing growing competition from new social networks such as Twitter, but experts do not believe the microblogging service will overtake Facebook as Britain's leading social networking website. Facebook was founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. The company tried to buy Twitter late last year for an estimated $500 million in stock, but the offer was rebuffed. Microsoft bought a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook for $240 million in 2007, valuing the social networking website at $15 billion.

Facebook at five: Top 20 facts

1) Facebook was originally named TheFaceBook by its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard student;

2) The site launched in 2004, initially as an internal networking system at Harvard before being expanded to other colleges in the Boston area and Ivy League institutions, eventually becoming open to all internet users aged 13 and over in 2006;

3) The facebook.com domain name cost $200,000 to buy and register;

4) Facebook currently has more than 150 million active users worldwide;

5) The site is available in 38 languages, including three versions of Chinese, Brazillian and European Portuguese, British and American English, Welsh, and even "pirate" (to mark the annual Talk like a Pirate Day, which takes place on September 19 each year);

6) Facebook has been blocked in several countries, including Syria and Iran;

7) The site has also been banned at numerous offices amid fears that it impacts on workers' productivity levels;

8) Facebook's international headquarters are in Dublin;

9) The first person to invest in Facebook was PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who offered $500,000;

10) Facebook tried to buy rival social networking service Twitter for $500 million in stock, but the deal was rebuffed by Twitter's founders;

11) In 2007, Microsoft bought a 1.6 per cent share of Facebook for $240 million, implicitly valuing the whole company at $15 billion;

12) More than 24 million photos are uploaded daily to Facebook;

13) The maximum number of people you can connect to on Facebook is 5,000, although the average number of friends is around 120;

14) More than 70 per cent of Facebook's 150 million users are based outside of the United States, and spend a collective total of three billion minutes on the site each day;

15) There are more than 52,000 applications available on Facebook, created by more than 660,000 developers from more than 180 countries. These range from everything to online Sudoku and word games to the ability to "vampire bite" friends;

16) The term "to poke" – a utility on Facebook that allows you to send a virtual 'nudge' to a friend through cyberspace – made it into the 2008 edition of the Collins English Dictionary;

17) Facebook has been blamed for a spate of gatecrashings at parties across the UK, with some revellers causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in the homes of unsuspecting hosts. Last summer, Facebook also spawned the craze of "dipping", where web users used satellite images from Google Maps to find houses with swimming pools, and then used Facebook to organise impromptu pool parties and skinny-dipping sessions;

18) More than 140 new applications are added to the website every day;

19) Facebook's employees, like their counterparts at Google, get three free meals a day;

20) In December, the High Court of Australia ruled that summons and court notices filed to defendants via Facebook were legally binding.

( www.telegraph.co.uk )

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