Facebook Has 10,000 Times the Photos the Library of Congress Does

Even Instragram has 10 times pictures

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Think Facebook is just full of zit-faced teens and stoner college kids, all "friending" and "tagging" and "poking" and doing God-knows-what-else to each other? If so, you're probably over 30 and haven't seen The Social Network yet. In any case, I offer you the following statistic in long line of statistics that demonstrate how important social networking has become. According to Jonathan Good, a blogger at 1000memories, Facebook has more than 10,000 the number of photographs uploaded onto its servers than are in the entire Library of Congress.

Good drops this factoid in a blog post where, using some back-of-the-envelope calculations, he attempts to figure out the number of photos that will be taken in 2011. (His estimate is 3.5 trillion.) He pegs the number of photos on Facebook at 140 billion, extrapolating from what Facebook engineers have said about the site's photo library in the past. The social network, by the way, has become the largest photo-sharing site on the Internet, threatening the existence of places like Flickr. The Library of Congress, by comparison, said in its latest available report that it owned "12,557,200 photographs." So Facebook has slightly more than a factor of 10,000 times the number of pictures. He illustrates that stark, orders-of-magnitude discrepancy below.

Even 11-month-old Instagram, with only four employees, has about 10 times the number of photos. "Yeah. This is worth knowing," writes Charles Apple at the American Copy Editors Society. "Because social media isn’t just a cute little fad. Like it or not, social media is the future of media."

For the record, the Library of Congress is considering the world's largest library by number of books and shelf space. But nobody goes to libraries anymore because of said Internet. There, it's all e-books on shelf space called iPads. The main difference is that every word gets either an "e" or and "i" at the front of it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.