On the first page of its IPO prospectus, Facebook claims 845 million monthly active users and 483 million daily active users.
But those numbers should come with a disclaimer. The New York Times points out that Facebook defines an "active" user (on page 44) as one who accesses the site through the web or mobile, as well as those who do any Facebook action, without ever directing to Facebook.com.
If you Like any website, you are considered an active user. If you automatically share you tweets, checkins, songs played on Spotify on pins to Facebook -- without ever visiting Facebook -- you are an active user.
According to a December 2011 Nielsen Company report, 153 million Americans visited Facebook. The company says 161 million Americans are active monthly users. Facebook may be off by as many as 40 million "active" monthly users -- 805 million rather than 845 million -- if the difference is consistent between countries.
The New York Times points out that Facebook's metrics are more transparent than other major Internet companies, as its active users are engaging in activities related to the social network. Google has come under criticism for its what are criticized as inflated Google+ user totals.
Do you share engage in Facebook-related activities without visiting the site? Let us know in the comments.
Additional Facebook IPO Coverage
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- Will the IPO Change Facebook Forever?
- Facebook’s IPO: Reading Between the Lines
This story originally published on Mashable here.