Five years on, what's Facebook's future?

The debate also continues to rage about whether Facebook should be used in the workplace. Cushman says yes: "Most businesses which value creative thought should have no issue with people using Facebook or any other social network in 'work time'," he says.

"Our constant connectedness blurs the edges between work and play. Businesses should be happy about that."

A September 2008 survey into social networking habits conducted by 3 found that UK bosses are strictest when it comes to allowing employees to surf Facebook, Bebo and similar sites.

35 per cent of bosses actually have official restrictions on accessing social networking sites compared to fewer than 20 per cent in France, Spain and Italy.

In October 2007, A Sophos poll of 500 Facebook users found 14.8 per cent of workers confessed to being logged onto Facebook almost permanently during their working day.

Time wasting?

"Too many people have become hung up about time wasting with Facebook, just like they did when email was introduced," adds Stephen Beynon, Managing Director of NTL: Telewest Business. "The important thing is it can be policed and controlled."

Businesses should also consider the benefits though "they should look at how they can use the technology, not just at how they can suppress it," adds Beynon.

The head of web filtering firm Bloxx, Eamonn Doyle, points out there can be other problems, too. "Aside from productivity, social networking sites cause other business issues, from impacting network performance and opening up networks to malware and bandwidth abuse."

Other consequences

Andy Felton, a specialist in internet monitoring from says that Facebook use has other consequences. "Facebook was in part driven by the model promulgated by FriendsReunited, that of finding old acquaintances, but as an easy entry (free) social networking site that incorporates chat, and private free email accounts.

"But Facebook makes it all too simple for those in long term relationships to stray with hugely damaging consequences.

Felton believes Facebook – together with other social networking tools – is eroding the taboos of traditional dating. "Almost a quarter of adults worldwide today go online for the express purpose of dating, which casts an interesting question across those lists of 'friends' and why they really got back in touch after all those years."