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Eight billion minutes spent on Facebook daily

Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering, gives some background at the Web 2.0 Summit about how the site stays afloat under the weight of 300 million users.

SAN FRANCISCO--More than 8 billion minutes are spent on Facebook every day, Facebook executive Mike Schroepfer said in a talk Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Summit here.

Mike Schroepfer
Mike Schroepfer

Some 2 billion pieces of content are shared every week, and 2 billion photos are uploaded each month--1.2 million served per second on a "peak day," he said. Five billion calls to Facebook's application program interface (API) were made on Tuesday. It's huge: Schroepfer, Facebook's vice president of engineering, was focused on talking about the challenges of scaling a social network to the more than 300 million active users it has today.

One of the big challenges is that Facebook's home page news feeds have to be able to process 50 million operations per second. "We took a piece of open source software, Memcache, customized it, and deployed it," Schroepfer said as he discussed how the company keeps its home pages streamlined. "We were able to scale Memcache to five times its original performance."

He talked a bit about the company's culture, too.

"Move fast, break stuff" is one of Facebook's engineering tenets, Schroepfer explained. "Sometimes we push bugs. Sometimes we push products that people don't like." Those missteps, he said, are necessary for constant innovation. Some poorly-received modifications to the home page, for example, are about to be phased out.

The company also believes in accomplishing a lot with small teams, Schroepfer said. That's something some Facebook users might not think is such a good thing: Earlier this month a downed database at Facebook temporarily disabled about 150,000 accounts, and many took well over a week to come back. The company's chief operating officer admitted later that its response had been "too slow."