It’s official. We’re living in a Facebook world. Nearly 500-million people have Facebook profiles. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third biggest country in the world – much bigger than the United States. There’s a huge cover article in Time magazine about this – and here’s why they say Facebook is so powerful.

As opposed to the other internet super-powers like Google and You Tube, Facebook has an emotional investment with its users. We fret when no one responds to our updates – we get jealous when we see a cute girl has “friended” our boyfriend, and we announce our break up by setting our relationship status to single.

Time magazine says Facebook is making us more comfortable sharing ourselves with other people, and it’s that over-sharing that’s feeding their bottom line. Take the “like” button. It’s clicked 100 million times a day. Let’s say you click the Starbucks “like” button. You’re telling the company, ‘I’m your customer.’ So advertisers are able to target you directly, knowing you’ll be more interested in their Frappuccino promotion than someone random. They’ll also now target your friends, because if the Starbucks ad shows up on your friend’s page, it’ll say “Your friend John likes Starbucks” – and then they’ll be three times more likely to click their “like” button too.

So what else does Facebook know? They know that if it takes a fraction of a second too long for a page to load, we may not log on again. So they keep shaving their page-load times by milliseconds. They’ve also developed a formula for the precise number of “aha!” moments you need to have before you’re hooked on Facebook. Say by connecting you quickly with a long lost friend. The company won’t say exactly what that number is, but the site is geared to get you there in a matter of minutes from signing up. Of course searches for “How to delete Facebook” have doubled just this year, but it’s unlikely that’ll have much impact. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts each year we’ll share twice as much information on Facebook as we did the year before. Just something to keep in mind the next time you click “like” on your friend’s status update.