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Facebook supports 4.5 million jobs worldwide, social network says

Facebook-sponsored study claims the company added $227 billion to the global economy last year.

Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, surrounded by fellow Facebook employees, cheer at the ceremonial opening bell the morning Facebook went public. Facebook

A Facebook-commissioned study says the world's largest social network is making a tsunami-sized splash on the global economy.

According to the study, conducted by Deloitte, Facebook added $227 billion to the global economy and helped to support 4.5 million jobs around the world in 2014. Released on Tuesday, the study says that $100 billion of the economic impact affects the US, where Facebook also helped to support more than 1 million jobs. It lists the UK as the second-biggest benefactor of Facebook in 2014, receiving $11 billion in economic impact and 154,000 Facebook-supported jobs.

Deloitte's findings are not based on Facebook's 8,000 employees, but on the ways in which third parties benefit from Facebook via marketing activities, creating third-party apps and engaging in Web businesses that rely on the world's largest social network. The study claims Facebook helps companies reach customers, reduces barriers to marketing and supports entrepreneurship.

It's somewhat common for companies to sponsor studies to show their economic impact; though, the math used to calculate these figures can be questionable. Apple tried a similar tack to show its economic impact in 2012. In this study, the company claimed it "created or supported" 514,000 jobs across the US, ranging from engineering to transportation. Apple's study, conducted by the Analysis Group, used employment multipliers from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis to measure its impact on the economy.

Deloitte says its study measured three items: direct impact, supply chain impact and employee-spending impact. The company also estimated "marketing effect" to determine how much economic impact Facebook generates for companies through its corporate pages, advertising and referrals, as well as the economic impact of "ripple effects," among other metrics.

Direct impact measures gross revenues of companies that "use Facebook or whose products and services are used to access it." Supply chain impact describes increases in demand "arising from the activities of businesses that use or leverage Facebook." The employee spending impact is a measure of dollars spent by employees at companies that work at "businesses that use Facebook and at their suppliers."

Still, it might be difficult to gauge exactly what drove companies to grow and what prompted consumers to spend money.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.