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The Facebook photo machine

facebookHere’s a number to make your jaw drop; Facebook users are posting 300 million new photos every day. This is an incredible amount of photos going into Facebook, the equivalent of an entire Flickr every three weeks.

Facebook stores and processes so many photos that they’ve had to build their very own software (Haystack) to be able to handle it.

300 million photos per day is impressive, but what is really mind-blowing is how quickly the amount of photos accumulate at that rate:

  • 2.1 billion per week
  • 9 billion per month
  • 109.5 billion per year

By the end of 2010, Facebook had 60 billion photos, and estimates for mid 2011 hover around 100 billion. Based on those numbers, Facebook may very well have north of 200 billion photos as of this writing.

Some points of comparison, to give you an idea of how massive this number is:

  • A year ago Flickr hosted 6 billion photos. Based on growth from previous years, it may now be around 7 billion.
  • The hugely popular Instagram has accumulated 4 billion photos over its lifetime.

And remember, photo sharing is just one of many things happening on Facebook (albeit an important part). It’s when you see these kinds of numbers that your respect for Facebook’s engineering team shoots through the roof (at least it should!).

On top of this, Facebook is still growing. We have no idea how high these numbers will be a year from now. Two years ago, Facebook users were adding 3 billion photos per month, only a third of today’s 9 billion. At the current rate, Facebook could easily be hosting more than 300 billion photos by next summer.