Future of Facebook considered

Facebook and the future

Facebook may have to overcome some major hurdles in 2010 after a hugely successful 2009, according to a Guardian report.

The company has enjoyed a rapid expansion this year, growing from 150 million users in January to more than 350 million today. This has cemented its position as the world's most popular social network, well ahead of established players like MySpace and Bebo. In August, it even unveiled a real-time search engine in response to the rising threat of Twitter.

Moreover, Facebook claims to be on the verge of profitability following a string of social media marketing innovations. Advertising programs, virtual goods and brand campaigns with TV, music and film franchises have all helped to boost revenues.

Facebook takes flak

Earlier this month, however, privacy campaigners criticised the decision to ask all users to edit their Facebook security settings. The move was widely interpreted as an attempt to open up the site and make information such as status updates and pictures more accessible.

Justin Smith, founder of social media blog Inside Facebook, also warned that the company's plans to expand into emerging markets like Brazil, Indonesia and India could backfire. "It's definitely an interesting time," he said. "There are challenges with making a profit in many places around the world where there's not as big an advertising market or people have less disposable income."

Recently, Facebook published figures showing there were 69 million active players on its gaming application Farmville every month. To put this into comparison, research from digital marketing firm eMarketer suggests Twitter has a total of 18 million regular users.