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If Facebook were a religion, it would be the second largest in the world

Facebook announced this week that 2 billion people — more than one quarter of the world's population — are now active users of the social network Mark Zuckerberg started in his dorm room 13 years ago.

Two decades ago, the notion that billions of humans would be connected by a single product would have been seen as absurd, unless the “product” in question were, say, a religious text.

But now Facebook has more adherents than any religion in the world, with the exception of Christianity — which it's poised to overtake in just a few years.

There are more Facebook users than speakers of any of the world's languages, according to Ethnologue, a long-running catalogue of the world's languages (exact counts are difficult, but with the vast majority of China's 1.3 billion residents able to speak Mandarin, it is the planet's most commonly spoken language).

Likes, shares, comments and friend requests are becoming the closest thing humanity has to a universal tongue.

Even more impressive than the sheer size is the speed with which Facebook brought a quarter of humanity into its fold.

The network claimed its first billion users in 2012, just eight years after its inception.

Adding another billion took fewer than five years.

By contrast, roughly 200 000 years elapsed between the appearance of the first modern humans and our 1 billion population milestone, which we hit around 1820.

The quickest we've ever added another billion to our population happened between 2000 and 2012, when we went from 6 billion to 7 billion in 12 years.

Recall that Facebook just pulled this off in under five.

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