If social networks were countries, which would they be?
If Facebook were a country, it would be substantially bigger than China. The size of Facebook's user base translates to around one in seven of the global population using it each month - around 1.65 billion people.
The role of digital technology in breaking down physical borders is one of the many trends in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As social media continues to open up new opportunities for businesses and societies, how do today's networks compare?
Facebook According to Statista, Facebook had over 1.65 billion monthly active users in the first quarter of 2016. The number of monthly active mobile users also passed 1.5 billion in the same quarter. China's population, by comparison, is around 1.37 billion.
WhatsApp While not technically a social network, it's worth including the messaging giant in this list due to the 1 billion-plus people using it each month. Monthly active users isn't the best metric for measuring messaging apps (you either use them daily-ish or not at all) but the MAU figure has grown impressively from 700 million in January 2015 to 1 billion now, putting it within sight of India, which has a population of 1.25 billion. The messaging app also handles over 64 billion messages and 600 million photos each day.
The photo- and video-sharing app reported over 400 million monthly active users worldwide in September 2015, just ahead of the US population of 319 million. Nearly all of these are engaging with the service via the mobile app, although there is also a desktop version. The number of Instagram users in the US is predicted to pass 106 million by 2018.
The network for those happy to keep their musings to 140 characters or less, Twitter has over 305 million monthly active users, with around 80% living outside the US. The social network upset the apple cart last year somewhat with the introduction of a tailored algorithm to order tweets, moving away from a live feed, which upset some users. Growth has slowed, as well as the company's stock price, but it's still the go-to place for breaking news alerts and a glimpse of the world in real-time.
Google doesn't particularly like talking about its MAUs, and it's fair to say it isn't the obvious destination when people want to share something about themselves. At last count, the network had over 300 million users, which would make it bigger than Indonesia, and a tad smaller than the USA.
LinkedIn's monthly active user base is growing robustly, with around 100 million people currently using the site each month. Over 400 million have an account, however. The social network generates revenue from 3 areas - hiring solutions, advertising revenue, and premium subscriptions. The 100 million MAUs puts it just behind the Philippines in terms of size.
The newest member of the social media giants, it was reported back in January last year that Snapchat had over 100 million monthly active users, which would make it around the same size as Ethiopia. However, data is hard to come by, with some other sources suggesting the figure could be as high as 200 million.