Facebook is an online social networking service. Its name comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to students at some American universities. Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow students from Harvard University. The founders had initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University It gradually added support for students at various other universities before it opened to high-school students, and eventually to anyone aged 13 and over. Facebook now allows anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old to become a registered user of the website.
Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages, and receive automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their friends into lists such as “People From Work”, “Close Friends”, or Family. Facebook has over one billion active users, of which 9% are fake. Facebook has about 180 petabytes of data per year and grows by over half a petabyte every 24 hours.
In May 2005, Accel partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer added $1 million of his own money. A January 2009 Complete.com study ranked Facebook the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users. Entertainment Weekly included the site on its end-of-the-decade “best-of” list, saying, “How on earth did we stalk our exes, remember our co-workers’ birthdays, bug our friends, and play a rousing game of Scrabulous before Facebook?” Facebook is considered the 5th most successful startup company of all time, by market capitalization, revenue, and growth.
Mark Zuckerberg always said Facebook was started not just to be a company, but to fulfill a vision of connecting the world”.
Zuckerberg wrote a program called Facemash on October 28, 2003 while attending Harvard. According to The Harvard Crimson, the site was comparable to Hot or Not and “used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the ‘hotter’ person”. Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online.
Zuckerberg expanded on this initial project that semester by creating a social study tool ahead of an art history final. He uploaded 500 Augustan images to a website, and each image was featured with a corresponding comments section. He shared the site with his classmates and people started sharing notes.
A high-school version of the site was launched in September 2005, which Zuckerberg called the next logical step. (At the time, high-school networks required an invitation to join.) Facebook expanded membership eligibility to employees of several companies, including Apple, Inc. and Microsoft. On September 26, 2006, Facebook was opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address.
In late 2007, Facebook had 100,000 business pages (pages which allowed companies to promote themselves and attract customers). These started as group pages, but a new concept called company pages was planned.
On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. Microsoft’s purchase included rights to place international adverts on the social networking site. In October 2008, Facebook announced that it would set up its international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. In September 2009, Facebook said that it had turned cash-flow positive for the first time. In November 2010, based on SecondMarket, Inc. (an exchange for privately held companies’ shares), Facebook’s value was $41 billion; it slightly surpassed eBay’s became the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.
Traffic to Facebook increased steadily after 2009. More people visited Facebook than Google for the week ending March 13, 2010.
In early 2011, Facebook announced plans to move its headquarters to the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, California.
Release of statistics by DoubleClick showed that Facebook reached one trillion page views in the month of June 2011, making it the most visited website tracked by DoubleClick. According to the Nielsen Media Research study, released in December 2011, Facebook is the second most accessed website in the US (behind Google).