The number of active registered Facebook users in India more than doubled to 46 million at the end of 2011, accounting for 5 per cent of total global users for the month, Facebook Inc disclosed in its filing with SEC on Wednesday.

The total monthly active users (MAUs) in India increased 132 per cent during 2011. The growth is impressive but not as much as in the other, so called, Orkut dominated market of Brazil. Facebook had 37 million MAUs in Brazil as of December 31, 2011, an increase of 268 per cent in the year. At this rate Brazil could well surpass India as a market sometime in 2012.

Overall, Facebook had 845 million MAUs globally at the end of 2011, an increase of 39 per cent from December 31, 2010. In the home market, the USA, it had 161 million MAUs as of December 31, 2011, an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year.

The company defines MAU as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through its website or a mobile device, or took an action to share content or activity with his or her Facebook friends or connections via a third-party website that is integrated with Facebook, in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.

Referring to its competitors Facebook said, “We compete broadly with Google’s social networking offerings, including Google+, and also with other, largely regional, social networks that have strong positions in particular countries, including Cyworld in Korea, Mixi in Japan, Orkut (owned by Google) in Brazil and India, and vKontakte in Russia.”

In the meantime, expect more efforts from Facebook to grab attention span of Indian users as it is one of the lesser penetrated markets for the social networking site.

“We continue to focus on growing our user base across all geographies, including relatively less-penetrated, large markets such as Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. We intend to grow our user base by continuing our marketing and user acquisition efforts and enhancing our products, including mobile apps, in order to make Facebook more accessible and useful,” it said.

Facebook said there are more than two billion global Internet users and it is aiming to connect all of them. It has varying levels of penetration within the population of Internet users in different countries. In some countries such as Chile, Turkey and Venezuela, four out of five Internet users are on Facebook while in countries such as the UK and the US it has penetration rates of approximately 60 per cent.

India comes in the same bracket as Brazil and Germany, where it estimates to have penetration rates of approximately 20-30 per cent. Back of the envelope calculations show, Facebook estimates Indian Internet user base at somewhere between 153 million to 230 million!

But countries that could see the most aggressive moves by Facebook could be Japan, Russia, and South Korea where it has penetration rates of less than 15 per cent besides China (where Facebook access is restricted and it has near 0 per cent penetration).

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