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More than half of New Zealanders have an online profile, half of those check it daily and one in 10 admits to being addicted to it.

Facebook has become a necessity for every other man, woman and teenager - according to a Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The poll on New Zealanders' social networking habits asked participants how many Facebook friends they had, how often they checked their online profile, if they considered themselves addicted and whether they thought the site had improved the way we communicate.

Nearly 50 per cent of those who have a Facebook profile admit they check the internet site daily, with 14.3 per cent conceding they are addicted to the social networking medium.

Almost half, 46 per cent, of the 750 respondents thought the site had improved the way they communicate with others.

Popularity on Facebook is judged by numbers of the respondents: 17.8 per cent have 100-199 friends, while 13.9 per cent boast they are connected with 200-299 others on the site.

The site was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room with his roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Originally, it was intended for Harvard students to keep in contact with one another after they had graduated.

However, the site's popularity quickly grew and by 2007 it was global and estimated to be worth US$15 billion.

Today there are more than 500 million active users, it is worth more than US$33 billion and has become such a fixture in popular culture that the movie The Social Network, released late last year, was inspired by its creation.

Social media expert Simon Young said it had become so popular because of how simple it was to communicate and share with others.

"You can share photos with lots of people instantly. For example, if you take pictures at a Christmas party, people could be bugging you for days after asking you to send them your pictures.

"Now, just pop them up on Facebook and tag people in them. It's much more efficient."

It had also become a great way to stay connected to someone despite distances, he said.

"Goodbye is no longer goodbye any more. It's now 'I'll see you later on Facebook'."

The site has also become the latest way for people to promote themselves and their businesses.

Mr Young, who has both personal and business profiles, said it was an excellent way for companies to keep in touch with their consumers.

"It's much more of a two-way model. People can comment on the businesses' wall and let them know their feedback instantly. Most businesses do have a Facebook profile these days."

The Morphsuit Runners, a promotional group of three men dressed in full body suits, used the site to garner publicity for a radio competition.

"We made a bet that we would get to 100 friends, and we did. We actually only know five of them, so the rest are randoms," said a Morphsuit Runner who asked to remain anonymous.

Police have even caught on to the benefits of Facebook and have used an online profile to catch a balaclava burglar, a tiki thief and a man who stole a bottle of Gran's Remedy for smelly feet.