Facebook can’t legally get into China, but in a few years, the social network might be bigger than the country. A new blog post from Pingdom suggests that by 2016, there might be more people with profiles on Facebook than living in China, making Facebook larger than any country in the world.
Three years ago, Facebook’s membership passed the U.S. as the third-biggest country in the world (if the social network were its own country). Now, with more than 1 billion users, it’s inching closer to the No. 2 spot, as India has roughly 1.2 billion people.
Pingdom thinks Facebook can grow enough by 2016 to become larger than the most populous country in the world — China, which has more than 1.3 billion residents.
Pingdom pointed out that there are 2.4 billion Internet users around the world. At the end of the year, 41.6 percent of the world’s Internet users were also on Facebook — a worldwide penetration rate of 14 percent.
Pingdom put together a chart showing that if Facebook continues to grow rapidly, it could pass up China by 2016 (or 2018, with a more moderate growth curve):
Is that kind of growth possible? Yes, but for it to happen, Facebook would have to break through China’s firewall and steal some of the market share in Russia from vKontakte. Additionally, as the Internet grows in lesser-developed countries, Facebook will become more popular there, Pingdom argues:
There are certainly signs that indicate that Facebook can grow at this pace.
The main one is that Facebook has a low penetration rate in large parts of the world. For example, in Africa, India, and Russia, Facebook is only used by about 5 percent of the population. As the Internet penetration rate rises in these regions, Facebook penetration may follow.
Also, Facebook is still blocked in China. If this changes in the future, the world’s largest online market opens up to Facebook.
Readers: Do you think Facebook can become bigger than China eventually?