Along with the fifth birthday celebrations, 150 million Facebook users also got a mystery virtual gift, ranging from cuddly bears to champagne.

In the social playground of the internet, Facebook is the kid with all the bubblegum cards, sharing them out liberally as his dad gets them free from work.

Now that it’s reached the heady heights of five years old, founder Mark Zuckerberg has decided to get out the Facebook baby photos on his blog, charting it’s growth from the simple site in 2004 to the 2009 version that lets you throw sheep at people.

Facebook has also given a wedgie to it’s nearest rival, Myspace mainly because it actually has people you might know.

While Myspace still has an impressive 130 million viewers, the list of celebrity fakes and “Too busy” celebrities simply doesn’t compare to sending your friends that hilarious picture of when your cat slid into the washing machine.

Over in his blog, the 24 year old Mr Zuckerberg reminisces “The culture of the internet has also changed pretty dramatically over the past five years. Before, most people wouldn’t consider sharing their real identities online. But Facebook has offered a safe and trusted environment for people to interact online, which has made millions of people comfortable expressing more about themselves.”

From a “humble” Harvard dorm room back in 2004, “The facebook” was first started, and within 24 hours they had 1,200 students. By 2005, 85% of all American students with a computer were ‘booked. Today it’s available in 35 languages with 60 more planned.

The fastest growing demographic though are the 30 plus, who tend to spend more time online than their college buddies.

“Social networking is nowhere as big a deal as it’s going to become. Right now Facebook is the predominant social network, the one the other social networks want to be,” said seasoned analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, “As this space evolves, people are going to be living with these social networking tools. They are going to become the new walled gardens and form a more central role in people’s lives.”

As with all serious internet business though, people want to know how they can make money. With two hours a day spent on there, on average, that’s a lot of viewing time.

Opinions on how to do this, and why they should, vary wildly amongst the pundits, but one thing is clear, friendship means a whole lot more than adverts to most people. And Facebook has that market sewn up.

Source: BBC via SilentD

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