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What Happens in an Internet Second?

That's a lot of tweets.
The internet is people. Image: James Cridland/Flickr

One second. It doesn't sound like much, does it? That's barely enough time to blink or to take a breath. But in internet time, one second is practically an eternity when you consider just how much activity transpires in the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Today, 46.1 percent of the world's population is online—roughly 3.4 billion people. Compare that to just five years ago when only 31.8 percent of the world had internet access, and it's clear just how rapidly the web is growing.


And those 3.4 billion people who are now online are quite addicted to it. According to one recent report, average daily internet use has doubled over the past five years. Some studies have found that adults are spending over 20 hours a week using the internet, while teens are online a whopping 27 hours every week. And that number is only expected to get higher in the coming years.

So, just what are all these people doing with their time online? And how fast does the internet really move?

Here are some of the things that happen in just one internet second:

Twitter users send out 6,000 tweets every single second, while 1,099 Instagram photos and videos get blasted out—over 95 million each day. No word on how many of these are people talking about what they're eating at the moment. But as social networks go, Facebook blows both out of the water—52,083 likes and 3,472 photos are uploaded with each tick of the clock digital marketing firm Zephoria found in its most recent report. Perhaps that's not surprising for a site that recorded 1.09 billion daily users on average in March 2016, as detailed in Facebook's latest release of site statistics.

YouTube, which now boasts over a billion users, is shockingly addictive: 124,900 videos are viewed each second on the video-sharing website, according to Internet Live Stats.

On Reddit, dubbed "the front page of the internet" and the ninth most popular website in US per Alexa, 289 votes are cast and 23 comments are made. But those numbers don't tell the full story. In order to place a vote or leave a comment, you have to be a logged in user, and only about 15 percent are logged in at any given time, according to Justin Bassett, data scientist at Reddit. That means Reddit is far, far busier than it appears at a glance.


"We've seen [the number of logged in Reddit users] grow over time, as redditors learn the value of being able to customize Reddit to their interests and engage with each other," Bassett told Motherboard. "Our logged in users are undeniably the most engaged—despite making up just 15 percent of our user base, they account for nearly half of our 290 million daily pageviews."

What about Google, the world's most popular search engine? More than 54,000 searches are conducted each second—that's 90 billion a month and over 1 trillion searches in a year. That's trillion with a 't'.

On Netflix, 81 million users around the world consume around 1,450 hours of TV shows and movies per second, according to information available on the company's website. In fact, a recent survey found that 41 percent of all Netflix subscribers use the service every single day.

There's no shortage of these amazing statistics showing just how busy the internet has become, but the point is this: The web has grown tremendously in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. We've gone from a single website and a handful of internet users in 1991 to over 1 billion websites and 3.4 billion people online today, per the latest data available from Internet Live Stats.

And remember, over half the world still doesn't have internet access. In the coming years, online activity is only going to continue to increase exponentially. Maybe then we'll be talking about how many things happen in an internet nanosecond.