Pingdom has put together some stats and charts today with the goal of proving that Facebook may be able to become the biggest "country" on the planet (in terms of population) by the year 2016.
Noting that Facebook already overtook the U.S. three years ago, Pingdom points out that China and India are still ahead of the social network. Stats they use to set up their case: 2.4 billion Internet users in the world, 41.6% of them were Facebook users by the end of 2012 (compared to 4.4% in 2007), and Facebook penetration was 14% by the end of 2012 (up from 5.3% in 2009).
"As you can see, we made two different projections," Pingdom says of the above graph. "The first projection is based on a model that assumes Facebook to have a yearly growth rate that declines by 10% per year. For the other projection, we were a bit more cautious and assumed a growth of 6% per year. That may seem high, but Facebook increased its user base by 18% in 2012 alone."
They go on to say that Facebook has a low penetration rate in large parts of the world, like Africa, India and Russia, and that it is only used by about 5% of the population of those countries.
"As the Internet penetration rate rises in these regions, the Facebook penetration may follow," says Pingdom. "Also, Facebook is still blocked in China. If this changes in the future, the world’s largest online market opens up to Facebook."
On a related note, Pew has put out some survey results indicating that about 1 in 4 American Facebook users plan on using Facebook less in 2013.