It was hard to escape the news recently of the tenth anniversary of the social network that has changed the way we stay in touch.
The original 2004 interface of http://www.thefacebook.com
, put together at the time when chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was tinkering with a social service for students at Harvard University, is hardly recognisable compared to what over 1.23 billion of us can see today.
Back then, Friendster was the most popular social network, although MySpace was hot on its heels and about to take over. As so often is the case in the Web 2.0, with the way it can democratise the internet and deliver supremacy for a better service, both sites had their day but neither ever came close to challenging Zuckerberg’s creation.
Facebook had the advantage that it was not yet a commercial entity, and therefore did not need to please investors and develop revenue streams to make money. As a result, it was clean, non-threatening and devoid of the flashing screen spam that soon became synonymous with MySpace.
By resisting any pressure to turn an immediate buck through banner ads, and taking until 2009 to make Facebook’s first profit, Zuckerberg was able to take his time and work out the best way to monetise his social network. This approach worked well, and just last year, Facebook reported a profit of some $1.5 billion.
Launched in February 2004, the site clocked up its first million users by December of that year, and this was on just a bare-bones layout that did not offer the ability to share photos—one of the key uses of the service today.
Ten years later, it can boast a total of over 200 billion friend connections, just under a million people who actively use Facebook on their mobile phones, and more than six million likes each day. Around 400 billion photos have been shared and 7.8 trillion messages sent; huge numbers for what started as a student club.
“It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it,” said Zuckerberg to kick off the 10-year celebrations.
“It’s been amazing to see how people have used Facebook to build a real community and help each other in so many ways. In the next decade, we have the opportunity and responsibility to connect everyone and to keep serving the community as best we can.”