It is a fact that almost anyone who has access to the internet has heard about or better still used Facebook. This is coming as no shock, given Facebook ever since it broke the market has turned out to be one of the most popular and successful social media platforms. Many, although do not know to the full extent, how much Facebook is capable of, and narrow its usage down to chatting and posting images. We discuss more on Facebook and how it has come to be the most used online platform worldwide.
The company has quite an interesting early history, as it was originally intended to serve a digitised version of the ‘face books’ held by Harvard’s various colleges, which were paper directories containing images and personal information about students. It began at Harvard University in 2003 when it was earlier called Facemash, an online service for students to judge the attractiveness of their fellow students. Zuckerberg, the primary developer, had violated university policy in acquiring resources for the service; it was hence shut down after two days. This led to Zuckerberg registering a new URL, http://www.thefacebook.com in January 2004. He then afterwards created a new social network at that address with some contemporaries.
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The social network TheFacebook.com launched in February 2004. Harvard students who signed up for the service could post photographs of themselves and personal information about their everyday lives. Its popularity increased, and soon students from other prestigious schools, such as Yale and Stanford universities, were allowed to join. By June 2004 more than 250,000 students from 34 schools had signed up, and deals from major corporations such as the credit card company MasterCard started coming in.
TheFacebook kept adding new and innovative additional features to the platform, which were really accepted and used majorly. By the end of 2004, TheFacebook had reached one million active users. However, the company was still behind the then-leading online social network, Myspace, which boasted five million members. Renamed in 2005, Facebook quickly became popular as registered users could create profiles, upload photos and other media, and keep in touch with friends. It was known for its emphasis on transparency and networking. It soon beat its competition, Myspace, boasting 6million members. Investments were now coming in large chunks, with top companies buying shares on Facebook. Facebook got a whopping $1 billion buyout offer from Yahoo!, which they turned down.
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A few years later, in May 2012, Zuckerberg took Facebook public and is now worth $104.6 billion at the time of this writing. In October 2021, Facebook announced that it was changing the name of its parent company to Meta Platforms. The name change reflected an emphasis on the “metaverse,” in which users would interact in virtual reality environments.
Facebook is free to use and earns most of its money from advertisements on the platform. New users can create profiles, upload photos, join a preexisting group, and start new groups. The site has many components, including Timeline, space on each user’s profile page where users can post their content and friends can post messages; Status, which enables users to alert friends to their current location or situation; and News Feed, which informs users of changes to their friends’ profiles and status. Users can chat with each other and send each other private messages. Users can signal their approval of content on Facebook with the Like button, a feature that also appears on many other websites. Other services that are part of Meta Platforms are Instagram, a photo- and video-sharing social network; Messenger, an instant-messaging application; and WhatsApp, a text-message and VoIP service.
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As of April 2021, a large percentage of Facebook users access the platform almost exclusively on mobile devices. The availability of Facebook on mobile has enabled them to lay an early claim to mobile-first online markets. Facebook also publishes apps based on original Facebook features such as Facebook Messenger. The rather wide range of Facebook-related apps does ensure their stand as one of the most popular app publishers worldwide based on downloads.
This can only make one wonder how many users this interesting platform has amassed over time. With roughly 2.89 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2021, Facebook remains the biggest social network worldwide. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users surpassed a billion, making it the very first social network ever to attain such a feat. During the first quarter of 2021, the company stated that 3.51 billion people were using at least one of the company’s core products (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, or Messenger) each month.
Facebook, the leading social network, is available in multiple languages and enables users to connect with friends or people across geographical, political, or economic borders. It is around these purported interests that Facebook segments its audiences for its core revenue generator: advertising. A large number of users around the world which Facebook has can not be overlooked, making it such that the app offers one of the most comprehensive and diverse advertising audiences of the digital age. Facebook and Google have what some call a “duopoly” on online advertising. In 2019, they both controlled over 70 percent of the market. Facebook alone accounts for about a quarter of all online advertising. As Facebook has grown up, so has its audience. What was once a website (and then app) for teenagers has become more and more a place for people of all ages and races, but mainly those aged above 25 years old. Instagram, Tiktok and Snapchat have become the go-to app for teenagers.
To get a hold of almost all age demographic, Facebook has made smart acquisitions over the past couple of years. Acquiring Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and WhatsApp in 2014 for $16 billion. It also acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, and is now the leader in the low-cost VR market, which Zuckerberg sees as the gateway to Facebook’s “metaverse”.
As Facebook has grown over the past years, since its creation, It has had to deal with a lot of issues that have come up as a result of its enormous reach. Many accusations although, one that catches the eye is the case of its platform being used for human trafficking in the Middle East, which nearly led to it being banned off the iOS App Store. Facebook has always argued that while it does suffer from these issues, it has improved society and has facilitated the connection of billions of people around the globe, also reconnecting families and friends in the process.