HISTORY OF FACEBOOK
February 4 is the 10th 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 largest social network with over 1 billion people using it to connect with friends, relatives, and co-workers around the world. Almost two-thirds of active users log in daily. It is expected by 2015 the number of Facebook users could be larger than the population of China. 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 9 million applications on Facebook. Facebook Connect has become a popular authentication protocol. Over 4 million businesses have active Pages on Facebook. Even the History of the Holidays has a Facebook Page, check it out here.
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, Facebook is used by:
- 57% of adults
- 73% of those 12 – 17 years old
- 27% of 18 – 29-year-olds have more than 500 friends
- 72% of users over 65 have 100 friends or fewer
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, but it is also becoming the go-to location for clubs, groups, and churches where people can share publicly or privately their tastes, ideas, opinions, and interests. It’s becoming the new “social dashboard.” 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 has become the backchannel for comments.
Do you have a Facebook profile? Mine is here.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian