Key Points

  • Within the first month of its existence being announced, Mark Zuckerberg’s second incarnation of a student website, thefacebook.com had attracted over half the student population at Harvard.
  • Initially, only students of the Ivy League institution were eligible for using the site. However, students in the US and Canada were soon permitted to join it as well.
  • In 2005, eligibility was also provided to students in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and employees of Apple, and Microsoft. In the same year, the site became known as Facebook. The following year, eligibility was open to the public as long as they were aged 13 or above.

The History of Facebook: What to Know

Launched initially as FaceMash in October 2003, Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Andrew McCollum. This social networking platform supports messaging, media upload, voice, and video calls, etc. FaceMash was changed to TheFacebook in 2004.

When first launched, only Harvard University students were eligible members of the social network. However, with time, membership was extended across the Ivy League, Boston Area, and other universities in the Canada and US. By September 2006, you can register on Facebook if you have a valid email and are at least 13 years old.

Quick Facts

Year Founded
2003
Founders
Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes.
Industry
Entertainment
Headquarter
Menlo Park, California, United States
Key People
Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker
Notable Products
Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus.
Website
https://web.facebook.com/

The Founding of Facebook: How It Happened

Zuckerberg decided to create a student directory with photos and basic personal information,  Facemash, which used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine dormitory Houses, placing two next to each other and asking users to choose the hotter person. To accomplish this, Mark hacked into the protected areas of Harvard’s computer network and copied the houses’ private dormitory ID images.

Harvard at that time did not have a student directory with photos and essential information, and the Facemash site generated 450 visitors and 22000 photo-views in its first several hours online. The initial site mirrored people’s physical community—with their real identities, represented the key aspects of what later became Facebook.

The site was quickly forwarded to several campus group list servers but was shut down a few days later by the Harvard administration. Zuckerberg got into trouble, being charged by the administration with breach of security, violating copyrights, and violating individual privacy, and faced expulsion, but ultimately the charges were dropped.

The following semester, in January 2004, Mark began writing code for a new website. In February 2004, he launched the Thefacebook site, initially located at URL thefacebook.com. When Zuckerberg finished the site, he told a couple of friends, and one of them put it on an online mailing list. Immediately several dozen people joined, and then they were telling people at the other houses. It was like an avalanche; within twenty-four hours, Thefacebook had somewhere between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred registrants.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is pictured here in 2003.

Initially, membership was restricted to students of Harvard College, and within the first month, more than half the undergraduate population at Harvard was registered on the site. Mark soon attracted assistants to promote the website—Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to 3 other Universities—Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. This expansion continued when it opened to all Ivy League and Boston area schools, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States.

The company Facebook incorporated in the summer of 2004 and the entrepreneur Sean Parker, who had been informally advising Zuckerberg, became the company’s president. At the same time, the company received its first investment of US$500000 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and moved its base of operations to Palo Alto, California. The company dropped The from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com in 2005 for $200000.

Facebook Through the Decades

Decade 1 – 2003 to 2013

Facebook started in 2003 as a student directory featuring basic information and photos proposed to replace the domineering paper sheets and private online directories used at Harvard. Facebook was originally called FaceMash when launched in 2003.

By 2004, Mark Zuckerberg began to write the code of a new website, TheFacebook. The website was launched on February 4, 2004, recording over 12,000 registrants within the first twenty-four hours of going live.

Although, when created, membership was restricted to only Harvard University students; however, by March 2004, membership had expanded to almost all universities in Canada and the United States.

Facebook dropped the “The” suffix in 2005 after the domain name, Facebook.com was purchased. During this same period, Facebook headquarters was moved to Palo Alto, California, and Sean Parker, Zuckerberg’s unofficial advisor, was appointed as the company’s president.

After hitting the six millionth registrants in December 2005, the network further expanded to universities in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and several other parts of the world that could now register. Also, employees of top companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, became eligible to register. The social media platform became available to everyone 13 years and older in September 2006, and with this, the social media network users skyrocketed to several million.

The company introduced the group pages feature in 2007, allowing companies to attract prospects and close multiple deals without leaving the website. Over 100,000 business pages were registered in the beta testing stage.

In February 2011, the social media platform became the largest online photo directory, surpassing even Pixable, expected to have 1billion photos before the summer of 2011.

Decade 2 – 2014 To Date.

In 2015, over 900 million people were active users worldwide, generating an average of $10billion as revenue yearly since its creation. In 2014, Facebook developed another iOS and Android app, Facebook Lite, allowing users to access their platform with lesser data.

Facebook Zero was launched in February 2010 to allow users to enjoy the platform for free without the need for mobile data. Facebook also launched its dating service, Facebook Dating, in May 2018.

Presently, there are over 2billion active users on Facebook, doubling as the biggest social media network all over the world. In November 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was changing its name to “Meta” to further embrace AI.

What Are the Most Important Inventions from Facebook?

Facebook Notes 

Facebook Notes was created in 2006 as a mini-blogging platform. Over the years, the invention allowed users to import personal content (posts) from other websites, such as Blogger, Xanga, and LiveJournal. As of 2021, although still existing, Facebook Notes have significantly faded into the background, thanks to recent redesigns made.

Facebook Messenger 

Facebook Messenger was originally launched in 2011 before its reintroduction in 2014. This invention allows Facebook users to chat with one another, both on the web and mobile. Facebook Messenger featured several other accompanying apps, including Strobe, Stickered, Sound Clips, Shout for Messenger, and Selfied.

WhatsApp

Originally created by Jan Koum and Brian Acton in 2009, the popular messaging mobile app WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014. WhatsApp is currently their most valuable acquisition, worth over $5billion. WhatsApp allows its users to send and receive text messages, voice messages, media content, documents, locations, and make or receive video and voice calls.

How Does Facebook Make Money?

Facebook’s source of revenue is primarily through advertisements within Facebook and Instagram. Other ways they make money include payment fees from developers and selling Portal and Oculus devices.

Facebook Acquisitions

FriendFeed

Facebook acquired FriendFeed in August 2009 for $50million, both in cash and stock. FriendFeed remained active for some time before its eventual closure in April 2015.

Octazen Solutions

In 2010, Facebook acquired Octazen Solutions, a startup for contact importing, for an undisclosed fee. The deal was regarded as “talent acquisition,” as the original owners of the startup eventually became engineers at Facebook.

Instagram

In April 2012, Facebook also acquired Instagram for $1billion in stock and cash. Rumors have it that Instagram was purchased because it was highly threatening to the business standards of Facebook.

WhatsApp

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in February 2014 for $19billion, both in cash and stock. The purchases emerged as the most expensive acquisition ever made for a venture-capital sponsored startup.

Oculus VR

Also, in 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, a virtual reality startup, for $2billion in stock and cash.

Facebook Notable Controversies

Whitehat Hacking, 2013

After multiple failed attempts to report a security bug to Facebook, a Whitehat hacker hacked Mark’s official account and posted the bug update on his wall.

US Presidential Election, 2016

Facebook suffered heavy criticisms for misinforming its users during the 2016 United States presidential election. Mark apologized, explaining the company’s plans to improve their reports.

Genocide, 2018

Facebook suffered another major controversy in 2018 following a report revealing the company’s significant contribution to inciting genocide against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

User Privacy Violation, 2019

The FTC fined Facebook a record-breaking fee of $5billion for violating user privacy. This is the highest fine a tech company has ever suffered.

Up Next…

Interested in finding out more about awesome technological strides that changed the course of history? Read about them in these articles here.

Facebook: Complete Guide — History, Products, Founding, and More FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is Facebook?

Facebook is a social media website that allows friends, families, colleagues, etc., to connect with one another, sharing multiple text and media content, including pictures, videos, articles, music, etc.

Who created Facebook?

Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew McCollum, Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz.

When was Facebook invented?

2003.

What is a brief history of Facebook?

Facebook was originally created in 2004 as a student directory for Harvard students. However, the company expanded with time, making the social directory available worldwide. Currently, there are 2.89billion active users of Facebook.

What was Facebook’s old name?

Facemash

Who was the first Facebook user?

Mark Zuckerberg

Whose face was first uploaded to Facebook?

Al Pacino

What is Facebook known for?

Facebook is known as an easy-to-use social media platform. Other business owners also use Facebook as an advertising medium to connect with their potential customers.

About the Author

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  • Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Facebook
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