Facebook Announces 500 Million Users, Stories and Thanks Applications

Facebook says it has reached 500 million monthly active users “as of this morning,” according to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. In a blog post today, he also announced a new in-house Stories application that features positive stories from users around the world, relating how they did things like reunited with long-lost family members through the service. Another application, a photo album of sorts called Thanks, shows Zuckerberg and company employees thanking everyone for using the service.

From his post:

We’re launching a new application called Facebook Stories where you can share your own story and read hundreds of others, categorized by themes and locations around the world. These stories include:

Ben Saylor, a 17-year-old high school student, who turned to Facebook to organize a community effort to rebuild the Pioneer Playhouse, the oldest outdoor theater in Kentucky, after it was damaged by floods in May.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who, during his time in office, would go jogging with 100 of his fans from Facebook.

Holly Rose, a mother in Phoenix, who credits a friend’s status message telling women to check for breast cancer with her being diagnosed in time to treat the disease. She used Facebook for support during treatment and became a prevention advocate herself.

Here are some more details on the app. There are dozens of themes including “Love” and “College.” A “popular” section will feature the stories with the most likes. Other companies, 31 in total, are featuring some Stories as tabs within their own Pages. And the app is going to be around for awhile: “A team from Facebook will be hitting the open road in the U.S. to meet the people, towns and organizations behind these stories in our first Facebook Stories road trip. We’ll be sharing more details of the trip and initial stops in future posts on this blog and the Facebook Page. Finally, note the Bing integration, as it’s another example of Facebook working with strategic partner Microsoft.

Facebook’s rapid growth in the past few years has made it one of the largest web sites in the world — it gained 100 million users in the last 5 months, by its own measure. That success has also made it a big new target for everyone else in the world, from rival businesses to lawyers, politicians, pundits and even religious leaders. The application is a way for the company to remind everyone that it has grown to 500 million users because its products provide special value to people.