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Facebook celebrates its 12th birthday with $12b

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Facebook has marked its 12th birthday having grown from Harvard dormitory-room hobby to a network of more than 1.5 billion people in just over a decade.

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Founder Mark Zuckerberg faced expulsion from the prestigious American university after he hacked into its computer network to access images used as part of the first version of the site – asking visitors to choose which of two people shown were more attractive.

Now, following the company’s financial results announcement last week, Zuckerberg has moved past Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the fifth wealthiest person in the world as shares in the social network spiked.

Revenue of more than $US12 billion ($A16.7 billion) for the year was announced for a company that bought the domain for its website for $200,000 in 2005.

Since being established as a way of reconnecting with friends, and then posting photos and videos, Facebook now supports 360-degree video, is used as a resource for confirming safety to loved ones during disasters, and has become a technology and social hub following the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as virtual reality firm Oculus.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly mentioned a mission of “connecting the entire world”. The social network has already co-founded Internet.org, an enterprise that is working on solar-powered drones that aim to beam internet signal to remote parts of the world lacking connection.

Technology expert and founder of Pocket-lint.com Stuart Miles said this new technology, as well as the site’s ability to tap into basic human needs, were driving Facebook forward.

“It’s ability to tap into everyone’s fear of missing out means that people are keen to log in over and over again,” he said.

Zuckerberg recently announced WhatsApp had surpassed one billion active users, with Facebook’s own Messenger app also active for 800 million people. Photo-sharing app Instagram, bought by Facebook for $US1 billion in 2012, has around 400 million users.

All of this surpasses fellow social media giant Twitter, which has around 320 million users and is struggling to grow.

– AAP

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