Happy birthday Facebook: A look at the journey so far

On this day, 15 years ago, Facebook was born. The main brain behind this is Mark Zuckerberg, who was 19 years old by then and a student at Harvard University.

Facebook started as “Facemash”, then transitioned to “thefacebook.com” and then finally to Facebook. It was started by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Luiz Saverin, a Brazilian-born entrepreneur and angel investor.

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History of Facebook

It all began in 2003, when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg created an online program called “Facemash”, which allowed users to objectify fellow students by comparing photos of their faces and selecting who they deemed as “hotter”.

While Zuckerberg faced punishment from the Harvard administration and narrowly escaped expulsion from the college altogether for his actions, “Facemash” provided the framework for what was to become Facebook.

On February 4 2004 Facebook was born, then known as thefacebook.com and made available exclusively to Harvard students.

One of the very first Facebook posts | Business Insider

The membership was then expanded to other colleges in the Boston area then to all Universities in the United States and Canada.

By September 26 2006, anyone in the world could make themselves a Facebook account, as long as they were at least 13 years old and had a valid email address.

Facebook has acquired various other companies such as Instagram and Whatsapp to maintain their users’ interest.


Related Article: 10 ways to increase safety of your Facebook account


Controversies

Facebook is not new to controversy. As a matter of fact it has been buried in controversy ever since its inception.

  • One week after thefacebook.com was launched, Mark Zuckerberg was accused by Harvard seniors of having stolen an idea from them. This case was in court and lasted almost a decade.
  • Zuckerberg’s issues with co-founder and former close friend Saverin were also part of Facebook’s controversy. Having been chief financial officer and business manager for Facebook since its conception, Saverin was reportedly cut from Facebook by Zuckerberg in 2005 and had his shares in the company diluted. This led to Saverin filing a lawsuit against Facebook, which was settled outside of court.
  • Most recently, Facebook has become embroiled in controversy concerning how it handles it’s user’s data. This was famous in the Cambridge Analytica saga.
  • Also, it was recently revealed that Facebook paid minors to share their private data with them.

The above controversies’ impact can be felt now as people are opting against the app although it still remains a very popular app.

Reasons For the Rise

Facebook has over 1 billion downloads on Google Play Store. This is just an example of the success it has had over the last 15 years. There are many reasons that can be attributed to the success of Facebook so far:

  • It moved fast. Mark Zuckerberg built a cool product and launched it. In doing so, he avoided negative energy from people who said his idea would be a flop.
  • An idea is just an idea until it’s put into practice. Many people have good ideas but this stays in the brain. Zuckerberg had his idea and put it into practice and produced a good product which has gone on to be very successful.
  • Started Simple. The first version of Facebook was a very simple product that was modified as it advanced with time and the number of users increasing.
  • Mark Zuckerberg had a good deal of successful mentors around him. He cultivated a group of advisers, including some of the best entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in the country. This group included Steve Jobs, VC Marc Andreessen, investor Peter Thiel, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, Warren Buffett, Donald Graham of the Washington Post, and many others.

Predictions going forward

Over the last 15 years, Facebook has changed very much. Here are my predictions to what we can expect from Facebook in future.

  • Due to the various data breach controversies, a number of users will most likely leave the social media site.
  • And also due to the recent data controversies. I expect that Facebook will improve it’s privacy and content controls.
  • Changes in the User Interface and Algorithm.
  • Acquisition of more apps to join it’s list of apps such as Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp among others.
  • Increase in Facebook Advert usage by Companies and therefore increase in Advertisement prices.
  • Translation of Facebook into many African languages.

Above is Facebook’s story so far in a brief summary. I hope that start ups can learn something or two from the Facebook story. Mark Zuckerberg has since gone to be among the top 5 richest men in the world.