HISTORY OF FACEBOOK
February 4 is the 9th birthday of the social networking site Facebook. What started back at Harvard — and initially only open to college students or those with email addresses that ended in .edu until September 2006 — Facebook is now the fastest growing social network with over 800 million people using it to connect with friends, relatives and co-workers around the world. Half the active users login daily. Last year at this time, there were 600 million on board, meaning there are more people on Facebook than there are people in the United States. In January of 2009 it surpassed MySpace to become the largest social network in terms of US traffic. It is now the largest in the world, with most users outside the US. Increasingly users access it via mobile devices, with popular clients on many smartphones.
Facebook is a company, a platform, an ecosystem, a brand, a phenomenon, a veritable force of modern culture. There are over half a million applications on Facebook. Facebook Connect has become a popular authentication protocol. Over a million local businesses have active Pages on Facebook. Even the History of the Holidays has a Facebook Page, check it out here.
As I’ve mentioned in another article, some people live in Facebook, enjoying the “walled garden” environment where they can send messages, leave voice messages, update their status, comment on other people’s status, announce events, share photos, tag them, give gifts, chat, use custom applications, and play games — all in this same environment, without using other services. Not only is Facebook becoming an aggregator of web services, it is also becoming the go-to location for clubs, groups, even churches — where people can share publicly or privately their taste, ideas, opinions and interests. It’s becoming the new “social dashboard.” About a quarter of the most recent Super Bowl advertisements mentioned Facebook links.
This has exemplified and accelerated the Web 2.0 concept of “transparency” discussed in detail in Wired Magazine.
- Recruiters are using an applicant’s “social graph” to ascertain suitability.
- Job seekers are using it to network to previous fellow-coworkers and employers.
- Friends are expanding their networks through friends-of-friends.
- Parents are on Facebook to keep an eye on their children.
- Older folks are using it to keep their finger on the “pulse” of what younger people are talking about.
- Companies are using it to create online “buzz.”
- Websites now sport “ShareThis” on Facebook links. Mine does at the bottom of this article.
- Celebrities, performers, and the President are members.
- During the State of the Union address it became the back channel for comments.
Do you have a Facebook profile? Mine is here.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian