Mark Zuckerberg’s certainly got something to celebrate. Whether you love it or hate it (or love to hate it), Facebook — America’s favorite social network — turns ten years old today, February 4. Despite reports that younger generations are ditching Facebook in favor of platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat, Zuck and friends are still going strong. According to Alexa rankings, facebook.com is the #2 website in the US and in the world — second only to Google.
On one hand, it’s hard to believe. Has it really been a whole decade already? On the other hand, Facebook is so woven into the fabric of our society that it also almost seems like, “Really? It’s only been ten years?”
But ten years ago it was just Mark Zuckerberg, holed up in his Harvard dorm room with Eduardo Severin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes — the founding fathers of Facebook — about to change the way we socialize, interact, and share information.
When Facebook first launched, it was only opened to Harvard students. Then it opened to some additional schools –mostly other ivy leagues and top schools — a handful at a time until it was ready to fully roll out on campuses across the country. Many of us who were in college when Facebook launched remember going to thefacebook.com and it requiring our university email address to verify that we were in college.
In 2005, the company paid $200,000 for the Facebook.com domain name. Thefacebook officially became Facebook (although, if you were like me, it was several more years before you stopped typing “thefacebook.com” into the address bar in your browser. No worries. It still works today! It just redirects you to facebook.com.)
Ever wonder who the face is in the top left corner? It’s Al Pacino. He remained “the face of Facebook,” so to speak, until the site underwent a complete redesign in 2007.
Today, scores of businesses use Facebook’s ad platform to target an audience on the site. But back in 2004, the initial advertisers on Facebook were companies trying to reach Facebook’s demographic: college students. Eduardo Severin managed the first advertisements on the site. Today, Facebook generates over $5 billion in gross revenue yearly.
Design, layout, and overall user experience has long been a point of contention between Facebook and its users. When the site introduced the mini feed in 2006, that was all well and good. It was easier to follow each other’s updates and have actual social interaction than it was before. But soon they started introducing new layouts, notifications, a greater emphasis on pictures, tickers, timelines, and longer status updates with more customization allowed.
And every single time Facebook updated, users pushed back and became angry.
And every single time, we got over it.
And every single time Facebook unrolled a new layout or new features, we got angry all over again and begged for the “old Facebook” to come back (you know, the one that we hated when it was first released too).
Facebook just keeps growing
Though we as users often complain when Facebook makes changes, we have to admit that the changes have also been representative of us growing as users. Our needs changed. It was no longer enough just to know someone’s class schedule. This ability to grow with its user base is what’s kept Facebook from fading away like other social networks have done. It’s also part of the reason why its growth has been so impressive. It took only 10 months for Facebook to reach one million users.
According to StatisticBrain, today there are over 1 billion users on the site. Nearly 700 billion of them are mobile users. Some more interesting facts from StatisticBrain:
- There are over 54 million Facebook pages
- The average Facebook visit is 18 minutes long
- … Totaling in Facebook users spending over 640 million minutes each month on the site.
- 7 million apps and websites are integrated with Facebook
- Every 20 minutes on Facebook, 1 million links are shared. 2 million friend requests and 3 million messages are sent.
- There are just over 4,600 Facebook employees working to make this all happen.
A greater emphasis on photos
In 2006, Facebook made it possible for you to upload low-quality camera phone pics to your Facebook account (pre-iPhone). This was great, and certainly convenient as mobile technology was growing, but it wasn’t quite there yet. Remember when everyone had blurry camera phone profile pictures?
Today, an average of 350 million Facebook photos are uploaded to the site every day. As time’s gone on, Facebook has allowed us to customize our privacy settings by photo and/or album. It’s allowed us to tag people and be tagged. Limits on picture uploads in photo albums were lifted some time ago. Photos are now larger, and we’re encouraged to use another photo as our “cover image.”
Facebook Games: Stop sending me requests about crops.
When Facebook allowed us to link games to our accounts and play against our friends, some of us enjoyed games of Scrabble, while others got wrapped up in a big way with FarmVille. We all know someone who would send us multiple requests a day for help on that game. You either loved Facebook games and shamelessly sent invites, or you hated them and considered unfriending everyone who sent you a request for FarmVille or any other game. Thankfully Facebook gave us the ability to turn off requests and notifications.
Today, the name of the game is Candy Crush Saga with its 150,000,000 active monthly users. To give you some perspective of how massive this game is, the second most popular game on Facebook (according to the same site) is Words With Friends — with a mere 10,000,000 monthly users. Seems like we can’t get enough of those sugary puzzles — especially since the game will also track our friends’ progress inside the Facebook version. It gives the game an extra bonus of friendly competition.
A time capsule of sorts: what’s popular on Facebook
If we track what’s popular on Facebook over the years, we come away with a sort of time capsule. For example, if we were to look at current trends on Facebook, this is what we would see (according to Fan Page List):
- Most popular musician: Rihanna (84.5 million Likes)
- Most popular brand: Coca-Cola (78+ million Likes)
- Most popular service: YouTube (78 million Likes)
- Most popular athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo (71.5 million Likes)
- Most popular TV show: The Simpsons (nearly 70 million Likes)
- Most popular movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (68 million Likes)
- Most popular actor: Vin Diesel (62+ million Likes)
Of course, these all come from our ability to “Like” things on Facebook in the first place. This feature was introduced in 2009, and there are 4.5 billion ‘Likes’ every day. Following the success of the Like button on posts, Facebook made it possible in 2010 for website owners to add the Like button to their pages, as well. This has been particularly handy for publishers and bloggers.
The Infamous Facebook IPO
With all of its success and growth over the years, Facebook’s initial public offering was expected to be a generally positive experience. It was anything but. The share price plummeted as investors who jumped in that first day — May 18, 2012 — to buy up shares for $38 each watched in horror. After dipping as low as 53% of their original value, shares have slowly climbed back up.
What’s next for Facebook?
People love to speculate about what Mark Zuckerberg and company will do next. Search? Mobile? As we prepare to celebrate 10 years of “friendship” with Facebook, it’s hard not to wonder what the company’s got up its sleeve next.
Anyway, it’s been a while since we’ve had a complete site redesign to complain about.
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