Facebook is primed to announce this week that it's amassed a half billion active friends, a milestone reinforcing its status as the king of social networks—a company to be regarded with the seriousness and power (if not revenue) of Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft.
Five hundred million and rising also makes it clear to anyone not paying attention that Facebook is no fad, that it is a cultural force shaping our collective culture. Even if you have no desire to ever set up a profile, you can't ignore it and you are now oddly defined in the negative and left out of the zeitgeist.
A service of that size won't disappear anytime soon, even if Facebook has hit its plateau in the U.S. But Net users are fickle and the Web's short history includes dozens of sites that were once high-flying that have either since died (Geocities), lost their luster (Yahoo), or faded into irrelevance (Friendster).
So how could Facebook lose its place at the center of the Web?
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