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Facebook maps 1.11 billion friendships to show off social network's global reach

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckberg shared the image on his personal Facebook page
  • @jjvincent

Facebook have released an updated visualisation showing off the global connections between their users.

With more than 1.11 billion individuals signed up to Facebook worldwide the result is a glowing tracer map of arcing blue lines, connecting each user’s geographical locations with that of their friends.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted the new visualisation as the cover photo for his profile page, commenting that: “This is a map of all of the friendships formed on Facebook across the world.”

The first such image was created by an intern at the social network back in 2010 when the site had 500 million users: “I was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them.”

“When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people,” said the map's creator at the time. “It's not just a pretty picture, it's a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.”

Even these users aren’t enough for Facebook though, with the company announcing a new initiative last month named internet.org: a global consortium of companies that aims to increase access to the web worldwide.

"There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy,” said Zuckerberg at the launch of the project. “Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”

These sorts of projects, spearheaded by tech companies and often marketed as charitable initiatives, have not received universal praise.

In response to Google’s somewhat similar Project Loon (a plan to extend web access using high-altitude weather balloons) Bill Gates commented in an interview with Businessweek that “when a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no website that relieves that.”

The visualisation showing the geographical location of friendships from Faceboooks 1.11 billion users.