Facebook celebrated its fifteenth anniversary this year. It was officially launched in February of 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, who’d created the social media platform while studying psychology at Harvard. Before Facebook, he’d already developed several different platforms, including FaceSmash (which let you rate female classmates’ attractiveness) and CourseSmash (which let you view others in your course of study).
These early attempts at social media networking ultimately led to the creation of Facebook, which is still one of the most widely used social media platforms across the world.
In the Beginning
In its first incarnation, FaceBook was released only to Harvard students. Since prior to FaceBook’s release, Harvard only had print sheets available with students’ photos and names in them, within the first month of Zuckerberg’s online platform’s release, half of Harvard’s undergrads had signed up.
2004 saw the expansion of Facebook first to Yale, Columbia, and Stanford. Later, it was opened up to all schools in the Boston area and all Ivy League schools. That summer, Facebook was officially incorporated as a business, with Sean Parker named its president. At the same time, Facebook moved from Boston to Palo Alto, California.
Facebook continued to grow, adding university after university across the United States. In September of 2005, Zuckerberg opened Facebook up to high schools, although at the time, they had to be invited to join. A month later, Facebook began its global conquest by adding twenty-one universities in the UK.
By late 2005, Facebook had added more than 2,000 universities and 25,000 high schools across the world as well as employees from select companies like Apple and Microsoft. That expansion culminated in Facebook being opened up to anyone at all who had a valid e-mail address.
Facebook’s rise had been meteoric and only continued in the following years. 2007 saw the introduction of business pages. As of 2011, Facebook was the largest repository of online photos. In 2012, Facebook hit 1 billion users for the first time.
A Social Powerhouse
Facebook as of 2019 is a hugely influential platform. Anything that happens on Facebook can reach millions, if not billions, of people across the world. Facebook’s choices of what marketing and what accounts to permit influence what billions of people can see and even what they might choose to think and believe.
What was posted and advertised on Facebook can affect people’s opinions and even their trust in each other and their government.
From Profit to Privacy
Facebook’s modus operandi thus far has been about selling its users’ data for profit. There were many concerns about users’ privacy. But Facebook recently announced that it was going to make some major changes to its platform in the name of privacy. If Facebook can successfully adapt as the world and users’ needs change, especially in the realm of online privacy, then it may succeed in sticking around for the long haul.