11 business facts about Facebook on its 11th birthday

February 4, 2015, 9:05 PM UTC
Facebook Founder And Co-founder
CAMBRIDGE - NOVEMBER 12: Founder of Facebook.com Mark Zuckerberg, right, and Dustin Moscovitz, co-founder, left; have their photo taken at Harvard Yard. The two are students at Harvard University who are taking the semester off. (Photo by Justine Hunt/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Photograph by Justine Hunt — Boston Globe/Getty Images

Happy birthday, Facebook!

Mark Zuckerberg’s company turns 11 today, and it’s a bigger part of our lives than ever. We spend our free time scrolling through friends and friends of friends’ photos from years gone by. And we post details about our most important – and not so important – moments. In short, it’s been a love-hate relationship through the years.

Zuckerberg took to his Facebook page Wednesday to talk about friendship in celebration of the special occasion. “Today is a day to celebrate friends. It’s also Facebook’s birthday, but today isn’t about celebrating us,” he wrote. “It’s about friendship.”

He added: “Thank you for being part of our community of friends. Let’s turn today into a day to celebrate a friend. #friendsday.”

In its more recent years, Facebook’s business has been booming. Fortune took a look at some fascinating business facts about the social media giant. Here are 11 of them:

1. The company makes about $8 billion in annual revenue

Facebook makes most of its money from advertising. Not every ad (or user) is equal, according to a recent Fortune story. In fact, an average ad in Norway goes for $1.28 per click, for example. In Venezuela, it’s just 5 cents. That’s a big difference based on the user’s location. The Boston ad firm Nanigans spends about $500 million on behalf of clients with Facebook.

2. And of the money made from ads, mobile is becoming increasingly huge

Nearly three-quarters of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile advertising – accounting for a whopping $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Nearly 38% of users do so exclusively through mobile devices. For more, check out Fortune’s video highlighting Facebook’s mobile advertising business.

3. Part of its business plan is to change the world

Facebook (FB) has a bit of an oddball business strategy, which Zuckerberg recently outlined. He wants to help everyone get connected online through his Internet.org project. Is that a good business decision considering that cost and the limited potential benefits of closing the digital divide? “It matters to the kind of investors that we want to have because we’re a mission-focused company,” Zuckerberg told a skeptical analyst on his company’s latest earnings call. “Part of the sub-text of your question is that if we were only focused on making money we’d simply focus on selling more ads in the U.S. But that’s not the only thing we think about here.”

4. Facebook is leading the way in virtual-reality

A year after acquiring virtual reality company Oculus VR for $2 billion, Facebook recently announced that it would create a an in-house studio to help Hollywood use virtual reality in its films, according to Reuters. Although it’s mostly been focused on video games until now, Oculus’ move into movies is a potential sign of what’s to come.

5. The company is going to remove fake news stories

Facebook has been a mixed bag when it comes to news. Some shared by its users is high-quality. Others are simply fiction. Last month, Facebook said it would work harder to combat fake news in its news feed. “People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked,” Facebook said. “These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites.” The Onion, however, doesn’t have much to fear, writes Time.

6. Facebook wants to help find missing children

As part of its mission to help change the world for the better, the company said in January that it will post Amber Alerts for people in relevant geographic locations when a missing child in the area is reported. The company is partnering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the project.

7. Facebook is preparing to do battle with Google

The social network said in December that it’d be ramping up its internal search feature to help make it easier for users to find what friends have posted in the past. And, unsurprisingly, the focus is on mobile. That signals the early stages of a search turf war with Google (GOOG), which has been leading that space for ages.

8. It may also be beating out YouTube, also owned by Google, for video supremacy

Facebook may eventually be the top platform for video sharing, according to social media analytics firm Socialbakers, which tracked data on the profiles of 20,000 public figures and companies. November marked the first time that the number of uploads directly to Facebook exceeded that of YouTube. That’s another potential hit to Google, YouTube’s parent company.

9. Facebook is also working on a project to help out at work

Called “Facebook at Work,” the company released an app for professionals in January for the workplace. It’s supposed to be an alternative to email and help improve workflow, much like workplace apps Yammer, owned by Microsoft, and Chatter, owned by Salesforce. Check out a Fortune video highlighting the new feature.

10. The acquisition of WhatsApp lost the company money last year

Facebook acquired the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $21.8 billion, but it’s since lost the company cash. In fact, although WhatsApp made about $16 million in revenue for the first half of 2014, it lost $232 million from stock-related expenses, according to a Fortune article from October. But the messaging service is quickly gaining users with over 700 million as of January.

11. Facebook got a lot of flack for a controversial study on its users

Last year, Facebook apologized to its users for an experiment in 2012 in which it manipulated the kinds of posts users would see in their feeds to gauge their emotional reaction. After becoming public, the experiment created a firestorm. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer eventually apologized. “It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently,” Schroepfer said in a blog post. “For example, we should have considered other non-experimental ways to do this research. The research would also have benefited from more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people. Last, in releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it.”

Watch more about Facebook news from Fortune’s video team:

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