PALO ALTO, California: Just 54 months after its founding by Harvard alumnus Mark Zuckerberg,Facebook has officially become the planet's top social networking website, according to ratings released yesterday by comScore

It is also the sole such site to remain independent, despite which Facebook succumbed last year to the blandishments of Microsoft which bought a $240 million (€161.0m; £126.28m) stake in Facebook, effectively valuing the whole company at $15 billion. 

The software giant also inked an exclusive deal to sell ads on Facebook beyond US shores. 

But founder/ceo Zuckerberg (pictured above) has repeatedly declined acquisition offers, stating in July last year that he wanted Facebook to stay solo.

"We're not really looking to sell the company," he said, adding that he was "not looking to IPO [launch an initial public offering] anytime soon."

Since when Facebook membership has soared to the 132m mark, sixty-three percent of which reside beyond North American shores.

The site is currently available in eighty-nine languages, among them Spanish, Mandarin and French – thanks to which, says international manager Javier Olivan, "we are seeing a lot of growth in international countries".

This expansion is due, in part, to Facebook's technology-driven strategy. Rather than launch local-language versions for new markets, each with a local Facebook bureau, Zuckerberg opted to provide translation tools that enable users to customize the existing site in their own tongue. 

Notes comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman: "It was a very scalable process. They have gotten these things up and going quickly, and the audiences are up."

And continuing to soar.

Data sourced from Business Week (online); additional content by WARC staff